LAKE FOREST, Ill. –Back on Monday April 23rd, the Lake Forest Scouts varsity baseball team was 3-11. The offense had its struggles every game, and the Scouts would occasionally get a win if the pitching could hold the opposition to a run or less. It seemed like it was going to be a long season until the Lake Zurich series, when Lake Forest found a spark. Leading up to this weekend, the Scouts had won six straight and suddenly had a chance to exceed the .500 mark. Friday nights game against Glenbrook North featured a nail biter, then the Scouts offense showed no mercy in their double header on Saturday wrapping up what was another solid week.
Friday night, Lake Forest traveled to Glenbrook North to take on the 17-6 Spartans, and almost immediately, they found out why this team is at the top of the Central Suburban League. After Caleb Durbin scored in the top of the first after his leadoff double, Glenbrook North built themselves a solid lead in the bottom half of the inning. After starting pitcher Peter Turelli retired two of the first three batters, the Spartans loaded the bases, then hit a triple to center field clearing the bases. Glenbrook North scored their 4th run of the inning after the Scouts infield had an error allowing the runner on third.
In the bottom of the second, the Spartans picked up right where they left off. After a leadoff single and a steal got the first GBN runner into scoring position Kieffer’s single to center scored the leadoff batter. He would later come across the plate on a double from Heywood, extending the Spartan’s lead to six. Just when it seemed like things couldn’t get much worse, an error allowed Heywood score. By the end of the second, Glenbrook North had a whopping six run lead. Lake Forest however did not back down and fought to the very end.
Slowly but surely, the Scouts started to cut into the Spartans lead. In the top of the 3rd, the scored a run without even getting a hit. Caleb Durbin started the inning with a walk, then later stole second and third and came home when the GBN pitcher through it passed the catcher. Two innings later, Caleb Durbin was once again the center of attention. With a man on third, Durbin singled to left field cutting the margin to four. With two innings left, the Scouts needed a big comeback to tie or take the lead.
Lake Forest had something brewing in the top of the sixth thanks to a few mistakes made by the Glenbrook North defense. Andrew Gough reached after he was hit by a pitch, then Breck Nowik made it safely to first after an error by the right fielder. With one out and men now on second and third, Colton Pfeifer came through with a clutch two run single to center field. With the Spartan lead now down to two, guess who, Caleb Durbin came through with the hit that would even things up. On a 1-0 count, he doubled to left field scoring both runners erasing GBN’s six run lead.
The Spartan’s had a chance to take the lead back in the bottom of the sixth, but Drew Golde came in and had a immense strike out that prevented any runs from crossing the plate. The game ended in a tie, the Scouts first of the season. Although they would’ve liked to extend their win streak, a tie is not the worst result, especially with the fact that the Scouts were down six at one point to the best team in the NCC. Caleb Durbin came up huge in a game where he had three RBI’s. The only major concerning takeaway from the game was that the Lake Forest’s defense had five errors, which is not like them. If the didn’t commit as many if at all, they likely would’ve won the game. Putting the tie behind them, Lake Forest had a huge double header the next day against Whitney Young and Jones Academy.
One way to summarize the Scouts game against the Whitney Young Dolphins would be a blowout from the beginning. After Jackson Thomas retired the side in the top of the first, Lake Forest had ducks on the pond almost immediately. Caleb Durbin was hit by the third pitch of his at-bat, then stole second base with ease. Following his at-bat, JR Naughton singled to left allowing Durbin to score, then he came across the plate on a Drew Golde double. Come the end of the inning, the Scouts were up three and were hungry for more.
In the following inning, Lake Forest doubled their lead on only one hit. The Scouts loaded the bases with one out on two walks and an error, then Drew Golde hit a single past the third basemen that scored two runners. Lake Forest would later score one more run extending the lead to six. Whitney Young cut into the Scouts lead in the top of the 4th, but their momentum did not last long.
In the bottom of the 4th Lake Forest had yet another offensive outbreak. With a man on and one out, Drew Golde sent a double to left field scoring JR Naughton with ease from third base. A couple at bats later, Breck Nowik’s infield single scored Golde extending the Scouts lead to six. Looking to add even more padding onto their lead, Peter Turelli drilled a line drive to right field that allowed Nowik to come all the way around and landed Turelli at third. Come the end of the inning, the Scouts led 10-3 and were eyeing their third slotter rule victory of the week.
In the end, Lake Forest would only need five innings to finish off the Dolphins. After Whitney Young scored twice in the top half of the inning, the Scouts only needed one out to score five runs. After Ryan Lee drew a leadoff walk, Caleb Durbin scored him on a double to center, then Durbin scored on a sacrifice fly. To get to the ten run slotter rule mark, Lake Forest had three big hits, including a clutch triple from Breck Nowik. The Scouts went on to win the shortened game 15-5, and at the time were one game out from .500.
Lake Forest had a challenge in their final game of Saturday’s double header. They welcomed Jones Academy, who is 23-5 on the season. The story of the game was the Eagles struggles on defense. The game stayed close in the early stages, then the Scouts jumped way ahead. As almost every baseball coach says, “put the ball in play and good things will happen.” That was the case Saturday afternoon, when Jones coughed up five errors allowing Lake Forest to run away.
Things began to go wrong for Jones Academy on the first pitch of the Scout’s first at-bat. Caleb Durbin sent a fly ball to right field, that was mishandled by the outfielder allowing him to come all the way around to third. An RBI groundout would score him in the next at-bat, which would not be the only avoidable run the Eagles could have prevented.
Jones Academy came out swinging in the top of the second. Mike Weisman began things with a double to right field, then scored on a ground ball two at-bats later. The Eagles then took a 3-1 lead on a two out triple from Joe Margolis. Colton Pfeifer picked up his second RBI of the game in the bottom half of the inning on a sacrifice fly cutting the Jones lead to one, but the Scouts couldn’t even things up until the 4th.
The Eagles began to fall apart mid-game on defense. Ryan Lee gave the Scout’s life with a double to left to lead off the inning, then Jone’s second error of the game came when the third basemen coughed up a routine ground ball hit by Caleb Durbin. Just two at-bats later, the Lake Forest tied the game up at three when shortstop Marco Calderon couldn’t contain a ground ball hit by Drew Golde. Their nightmare inning continued when Pfeifer scored on a wild pitch, and when Will Davis drew a bases loaded walk extending the Scouts lead to two.
With Connor Morrison and Will Woidat throwing gems on the hill, Lake Forest was able to extend their lead in the bottom of the 5th to a point where the game was out of reach. To open the bottom half of the inning, the Scouts had five straight base hits, including a Caleb Durbin triple that eventually extended the lead to five. Almost to add insult to injury, Breck Nowik hit a ground ball right to the Eagles shortstop who airmailed it over the fence well over the head of the first basemen. This allowed Nowik to advance to second and Andrew Gough to score. The Scouts went on to win the game 9-3 in dominant fashion and reach the .500 mark.
The Jones Academy Eagles lost this game for themselves. The Scouts made them pay for every error they commited. The game would have been much tighter down the stretch if Jones did not make as many mistakes. The Scouts pitching was solid, and Lake Forest’s offense was putting the ball in play. As a team combined, they only struck out three times the entire game. Now at 11-11-1 on the season, Lake Forest will look to have their first winning record of the season with a win over top ranked Mundelein Monday night at Varsity Field. Stay tuned to The Forest Scout for the latest on the Lake Forest Scouts varsity baseball team.