Scouts Baseball Playoff Preview

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Scouts Baseball Playoff Preview

AJ Shaw, Staff Writer

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Since the start of the school year, the Varsity baseball team has been hard at work to achieve one goal, and that is to win a State title, something that hasn’t been achieved in the 56-year history of Scouts baseball.

“To win a State title would mean a lot,” said senior captain Will Davis. “It is truly the culmination of all the hard work and dedication put in during the season and to be able to achieve something like that would be unbelievably special.”

The team, which opens the playoffs Wednesday against Prospect, was on the cusp of reaching the Sectional playoffs last season, but the season ended in heartbreak after an extra inning loss to Warren in the Regional Finals.

“The loss against Warren really taught us a lot about ‘it isn’t over until it is over,’ and it really taught us to play from the first out to the last out,” said senior outfielder Landen Messner.

Entering this season, the Scouts knew their team would be built off of pitching, but surprisingly the offense has been a major strength, as the team combined to score 44 runs in their first five games, and were not shutout in a game until May 7 when Libertyville’s Ryan Klainos pitched a no-hitter.

The Scouts stars have been great as expected, with Breck Nowik leading the offense with team-highs in batting average (.384), homers (2), and RBIs (33), which earned him All-Conference in the NSC.

Captain Peter Turelli shook off a rough start, batting .416 over the final four weeks of the season to finish the season with a .298 average, 1 homer, and 17 RBIs.

Michael Vallone also contributed nicely after becoming a regular starter in the outfield when he wasn’t pitching, finishing the year with a .375 batting average and a .481 on-base percentage.

Other offensive contributors to the team’s success this year were Davis, who batted .330 and was also named to the All-Conference team in the NSC, and junior Matthew Birtman, who batted .338. Both men combined to hit .319 overall on the season.

“I think all the pieces are in place when it comes to [our] lineup. We have great combinations of power and speed throughout the lineup, and we also have great left-right balance” said Coach Ray Del Fava. “This is big for us, as we don’t have to rely on just one or two guys. 1 through 9, we have guys who can come in the clutch for us.”

When it comes to pitching, Vallone and fellow junior Connor Morrison look to be the go-to options in the rotation for the postseason. Both had tremendous seasons, combining to go 9-4 overall with a 2.01 ERA. Vallone’s 4-2 record and a 1.45 ERA led him to being named an Honorable Mention for All-Conference.

Turelli is also an option in the rotation, as he had a solid year as well on the mound, going 4-1 with a 3.38 ERA.

Unfortunately, Nowik will most likely not be available to pitch this postseason, as an elbow issue that he sustained in a game against Niles Notre Dame on April 25 has prevented him from pitching, which limits the Scouts when it comes to bullpen options.

Even without Nowik on the mound, the Scouts aren’t hurt entirely, as Brady Christoph, Robby Gray, Luke Chlystek, and Birtman have all provided great work on the bump, whether starting or coming into the game in relief.

Overall, the Scouts have the talent offensively and the pitching to make a deep run in the postseason. The team has experienced seniors and juniors who were on the team from last season and know the atmosphere of a postseason game, which will play a major role for the team this postseason.

“[My expectation] is that we give our best effort the minute we step on the field. If we do that, I will be happy regardless of the result,” said Del Fava.