SCHAUMBURG – Before his junior season, Batavia’s Brad Niedzwiedz received an early preview of his varsity pitching career.
The left-hander attended the DuPage Training Academy, where he learned his future might extend beyond high school.
“After my sophomore year, I started playing at DuPage Training Academy and a bunch of coaches told me that I had a chance to play at the next level,” recalled Niedzwiedz, who will play collegiately at Black Hawk College. “I’ve never been a big velocity guy, always more of an off-speed stuff and commanding my pitch. I worked on that and the velocity has come up a bit. I plan on keeping it up, as long as I keep on developing.”
Those early projections were correct, even though Niedzwiedz had yet to play on the varsity. The senior concluded his two-year varsity career by suffering the loss on Thursday. Niedzwiedz pitched four innings in a 7-4 defeat to Lake Park in a Class 4A Schaumburg Regional semifinal.
The Bulldogs (18-14) finished with eight hits off three Lake Park pitchers, but left eight runners on base in the last four innings. Niedzwiedz, the DuKane Conference Pitcher of the Year, had a solid effort on the mound, but allowed five hits and four runs in the top of the third inning to fall to 7-1 on the season. He finished with a 5-0 record in conference play. As a junior, he finished with a 5-1 record and a 2.43 ERA.
“We never gave up, kind of how we did it all year,” Niedzwiedz said. “It still hurts, but to get down early and we fought back. We at least had a chance. It’s going to be a while before I get over this, but at least I have an opportunity to play at the next level. This isn’t the last step for me, so it’s not as sad. I still have another level and I’m very excited about that. I’m looking forward to it and excited for the next two years.”
Batavia coach Alex Beckmann said the 11 seniors played a key part in leading the program to consecutive 18-win seasons. Senior Brady King drove in the Bulldogs’ first run with an RBI single in the second inning. The Bulldogs scored another run in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk and added a third on balk in the sixth. Batavia plated its final run on a seventh-inning wild pitch, but ended the game with two runners in scoring position.
“We had a lot of chances and put ourselves in good positions and couldn’t get that one hit,” Beckmann said. “They are well-coached and put the ball in play. If you don’t make plays, they will put a big inning up against you. If we make a couple of those plays, it might be a different story.”
“The seniors were a special group, a lot of two-year guys for us, really big contributors for us the past few years. We’ll miss them big-time. Great in the classroom and off the field and never had an issues. I can’t say enough about these guys, probably one of the closest groups that I’ve had in awhile. They were a lot of fun to be around.”
Niedzwiedz is one of three seniors set to play in college. Justin Major will play at Sauk Valley, while Jack Meyers committed to Rhodes College. Niedzwiedz said one of the big highlights this season was a win over St. Charles North.
Beckmann, while looking at his players hug each other in left field in the postgame, noted that the juniors and underclassmen have to build on this season’s success.
“In general, we will have a lot of newcomers and guys that will get their opportunities who were stuck behind some really good seniors this year,” he said. “It will be fun to work this summer with that group since there’s a lot of talent.”