The Lake Forest Scouts Varsity baseball team came red hot into the first round of the playoffs against the host Warren Blue Devils. Having won their past five games and getting over .500 for the first time this year, the Scouts were full of confidence heading into Wednesday evening. However, Warren would present no easy task for the Scouts. The Blue Devils finished third in the North Suburban Conference and have an impressive record of (25-9). On top of that, Lake Forest had to go up against Warren pitcher Nate Styles, who is pitching at Air Force next year. On the other hand, Paul Turelli, who has become Lake Forest’s ace this year, was granted the start, adding to the intensity that this match-up brought to the table. Earlier this season, the Scouts played Warren three times winning only one, yet in each of those games the winning team won by no more than two runs. Combine all these factors and the stage was set for a really good baseball game between two schools that desperately wanted to make it to the second round of the playoffs.
The game started off in the Scouts’ favor. Caleb Durbin, who successfully hit .500 in 128 plate appearance this season, was the first runner to get on base when he hit an infield single to Warren’s shortstop Matt Temaner. Then, the Scouts drew back-to-back walks with one out to load up the bases for Andrew Athenson, who has been extremely clutch as of late with runners on base. On a 2-2 count Athenson sent one to left field, scoring Durbin and effectively giving the Scouts a 1-0 early advantage. Nate Styles, however, was able to get out of a bases loaded jam only allowing one run when he forced Andrew Gough to ground out into a double play. Lake Forest was confident with their one run lead, but not long after the top of the first, Warren struck back.
In the bottom of the second, the Lake Forest Scouts still possessed a one run lead, but Warren began knocking on the door hoping to take advantage and give Styles some cushion on the mound. After Paul Turelli struck out the first Warren batter of the second, Cal Poremba hit a single to center field, getting their team in business. Following the hit, Jake Nitch and Matt Temaner drew back-to-back walks loading up the bases. At that point, they just needed their next batter to put a ball in play or have the ball go by the Scouts’ catcher. In this case, both scenarios occurred. On an 0-1 count Paul Turelli threw a ball that got by catcher Griffin Strang, allowing Poremba to score from third. On the following pitch Tanner Dyer grounded out to the shortstop position allowing Nitch to score from third and giving Warren a 2-1 lead. The Blue Devils did not stop there. They tacked on one more run before the inning ended after Luke Schmitt singled on an infield hit scoring Temaner. All of a sudden, Warren had a three run advantage and would not look back.
In the bottom of a third inning Warren took no time to expand their lead. On the second pitch of the bottom of the third, Vic Perez crushed a homerun to right field that barely stayed fair, but gave Warren a three run advantage. A home run did not kill Paul Turelli’s confidence, however, given that he was able to strikeout the side following Perez’s big hit.
The fourth inning was yet another struggle for the Scouts. Nate Styles was able to retire all three batters that came to the plate for Lake Forest in the top half of the inning, two of which he struck out. In the bottom of the fourth Warren began to rely less on walks and more on hits. Matt Temaner and Tanner Dyer reached on back-to-back singles, then moved up a base when a wild pitch was thrown. The Blue Devils next batter, Luke Schmitt, put the game out of reach when he singled to left field. Temaner easily scored and Dyer slid in safe at a play at the plate, giving Warren a commanding 6-1 lead.
Lake Forest had their chances to cut down the Blue Devils’ lead little by little in the fifth and sixth inning when they got men on first and second, but Styles was just too good Wednesday evening to allow anything more than just a run. Come the bottom of the seventh the Scouts had their final chance at a comeback, but they never really gave closer Pasquale DeFilippis any pressure as he cruised through the inning. Warren ended up winning the game 6-1 ending the Lake Forest Scouts Varsity baseball season.
The Scouts finished their season off with a .500 record (17-17) that featured some struggles at the beginning of a year, but those difficulties did not bring them down for good. The team kept fighting and improving knowing full well that quitting was not an option and eventually their hard work payed off. Towards the end of the season they went on a few big win streaks and were beating some teams by nearly twenty runs.
Of course, for the seniors, this was their final year playing baseball with the Lake Forest Scouts. Some have been playing Varsity baseball for three years while others have played two. Regardless, every senior made a valuable contribution to this Lake Forest Scouts team over the course of the past few years making memories that will last a lifetime. As some played their final organized competitive baseball game last night, others are planning to continue their careers in college. Those players are Jason Cast (DePauw), Brad Czerniejewski (TCU), Brian Heidbreder (Hendrix), Paul Turelli (Illinois State), and Jonny Salm plans to attend a junior college Kansas City, Missouri.
This is the end of yet another chapter for Scouts baseball, and it was definitely a solid one. It has been a privilege to write for such a talented Lake Forest Scouts Varsity baseball team this season and I am already looking forward to writing about next year’s varsity squad. Good luck to all the seniors as they begin their freshman year of college next year and congratulations on a solid 2017 season to all those who played for the Scouts varsity baseball team.