Cats stay hot : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Cats stay hot|
|Oswego baseball squad enters midseason holiday break with 13-8 overall record|
|by Laura M. Medina|
After playing their last four games in extremely hot temperatures, it appears that the Oswego Cats' mid-season holiday break could not have arrived at a better time.
Oswego's recent surge has seemingly aligned with the area's summer hot weather, as the team has posted a 13-4 mark since its season-opening four-game slide. It has split its last four contests, however, to bring its overall record to 13-8, with a 9-6 Chicago Suburban Baseball League (CSBL) standing to sit second in the North Division.
"We turned the corner at the right time, and we're right where we want to be," Cats player-assistant coach Todd Miller said. "It took us a while to get going, but we're on the right on pace."
On June 26, the Cats definitely set the pace en route to a 16-4 CSBL victory in Addison.
Though they kept things tight in the early going, scoring three runs in the top of the first and surrendering two in the bottom half, they eventually pulled away behind a seven-run seventh inning to lead 16-2.
Addison added two more in the seventh to end the game, but they really couldn't do much against the likes of right-hander Steve Sitterly (Aurora University). He nabbed the win after giving up two runs and two hits, while striking out two in six innings.
Right-hander Jake Murphy (College of DuPage) closed it out in the seventh, giving up a run, a hit and a walk.
But the offense stepped up in an even bigger way that night. Tony Jandron (St. Norbert College) went 1-for-4 with three RBIs, Ryan Prinzing (University of Alabama-Birmingham) was 1-for-2 with three RBIs and Ryan O'Dell (Edgewood College) finished 3-for-5 with an RBI.
Meanwhile, Anthony Amedei III (Aurora University), Clay Schuler (Valparaiso University), Josh Axelsen (St. Andrews University) and Bobby Wilson (Aurora University) each had two hits and scored two runs, while driving in an RBI apiece.
"It took us a little while to get going, but we ended up hitting the ball pretty well," Miller said. "Steve settled down after the first inning and pitched well. He didn't walk anyone, and we backed him up with timely hitting.
"We finally go the run production that we've been looking for."
Oswego's momentum continued two days later with an 8-3 win versus South opponent Westmont at Jackie's Field of Dreams on June 28. With excessive heat in the area, the scheduled doubleheader was changed to a late game instead.
Right-hander Kyle Ayers (Oswego High School) pitched six innings and walked six, but Miller said his starter was having control issues due to the slickness of the ball in the steamy weather. Still, he tallied eight striekouts on the night, as well as the win.
Left-hander Greg Fox (Harper College) spelled Ayers in the seventh, while (right-hander) Rob Currie (Tusculum College) finished off the game.
"We were just looking to give our bullpen a few innings since our guys won't be pitching much in the next few days," Miller said. "They did a good job against a good hitting team."
Offensively, the Cats were led by Schuler (1-for-4, with a three-run triple), Prinzing (2-for-3, with two RBIs) and Jandron (1-for-4).
Mike Foley (Aurora University) also went 3-for-3 for Oswego, which avenged an 8-1, season-opening home decision to the Red Sox on May 24.
When Oswego returned to the diamond on Sunday, a lengthy road trip combined with a short-handed roster (11 players) and high temperatures did nothing to help the team's cause, as it was swept in a doubleheader, 7-2 and 2-1 (10 innings), at Quad City.
In the opener, left-hander Drew Nicholson (University of Chicago) gave up seven runs - three earned - and nine hits, while striking out three in 5 2/3 innings.
"Drew had a huge game; he was just at the wrong end of the loss," Miller said. "We played well - we just couldn't get hits when we needed them."
Right-hander Tom Ozlanski (Aurora University) finished out the sixth and seventh for the Cats, who had RBIs from Sean Lindo (Aurora University) and Prinzing.
Right-hander Mark Gilloffo (Central College - Iowa) took the ball in the nightcap, and gave up an unearned run, six hits and two walks. He also fanned two in going nine innings before giving way to Murphy in the 10th, who conceded the eventual game-winning run in the bottom of the inning.
"Mark was just outstanding; he pitched a very good game and did a great job," Miller said.
"Our defense was terrible, and we were missing our three regulars. Without a full roster, it was tough."
Miller expects the Cats to have their entire team back throughout the second half, which starts tonight (Thursday) at 7:30 p.m. at Bowen Field against associate CSBL member Homestead.
Oswego then heads to Prairie State Community College to match up with Oak Forest for a Saturday afternoon doubleheader before returning to Jackie's Field of Dreams for a twinbill against the 76ers on Sunday.
Strong performances in these games could help the Cats start their second half on the right track.
"We're in the middle of the season, and after July 4, we have to come back and go full on to be where we want," Miller said. "We're starting to get a good idea of our players - those that have done it before will play and will be the guys we depend on to lead us there. Our starters are falling into place, too.
"We're going to have a good year. I'm still excited about what the rest of season holds for us."