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Battling the Cougars : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Battling the Cougars
Doubleheader goes down to the wire, playoffs loom for Oswego East

by Laura M. Medina


With only four games until the start of the summer playoffs, the Oswego East baseball team continues to get itself appropriately prepared for the upcoming competition.

At the start of a busy week, the Wolves split a doubleheader with visiting Plainfield South, winning the opener 4-3 and falling in the nightcap 6-5, on Tuesday afternoon.

Like many other teams in the area, Oswego East (11-5-1) is set to open the postseason portion of its summer schedule on July 16. Before it jumps into it, however, the team first had to take care of the Cougars, one of the team's Southwest Prairie Conference opponents.

Additionally, the Wolves had to make it through a home doubleheader against another SPC foe in Plainfield Central on Wednesday, as well as one against visiting Neuqua Valley today, Thursday, at 3 p.m. Results from these contests were unavailable at press time.

Against Plainfield South, Oswego East took the first game in rally-like fashion, thanks in part to two errors by the opposition.

"Everytime we play these guys, it's a tough game, down to the wire," Oswego East head coach Bobby Kaminski said. "In the summer, in the spring - we've played so many games in the years I've been a part of this program that are decided in the bottom half of the last inning, so it's fun to play against those guys."

Down 3-2, center fielder and senior Kyle Weller (2-for-5, two runs on the day) led off the fifth with a single, while senior right fielder Gunnar Mlsna followed it up with a walk to put the tying and go-ahead runs on the bases on a Cougars reliever.

During the ensuing at-bat with senior shortstop Chris Cooper at the plate, an error on the basepaths allowed Weller to come home and Mlsna to advance. Just a few seconds later, Cooper's dribbler to shortstop John Smith was misplayed, bringing Mlsna home for the walk-off winner.

Oswego East totaled just three hits in the first game, winning on the strength of capitalizing on Plainfield South's four errors.

Throughout the game, senior David Schurr gave the Wolves every opportunity to win, and the left-hander held the visiting Cougars to seven hits and four walks, while fanning three in his complete-game effort.

"We were happy to battle back in both games," Kaminski said. "In Game 1, we fell behind early and just came out flat. David pitched his butt off after that first inning and just settled in. He kept it going for us."

But the momentum Oswego East created in the opener wasn't readily found in the first few innings of Game 2.

After both teams went scoreless in the first, Plainfield South put two on the board on back-to-back sacrifice-fly RBIs by shortstop John Smith and center fielder Dan Enlo against sophomore right-hander Noah Mlsna (three runs, four hits, four walks, two strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings).

An overthrow at third in the bottom of the second, however, allowed junior first baseman Nick Dabrowski to come around and score, cutting the deficit to 2-1.

The Cougars, though, responded in the third with another two runs, one on a sacrifice fly and another on an RBI single by left fielder Jermaine Terry to push the lead to three runs.

Junior right-hander Zach Behnke (one run, one hit, one walk) started that inning for the Wolves, while junior right-hander Peyton Cypress (two runs, one hit, three walks, one strikeout in 2 1/3 innings) finished things out.

Meanwhile, the Wolves kept themselves in the game, chipping away at the lead on an RBI triple by junior left fielder Isaiah Spencer to make it a 4-2 game.

Neither team scored in the fourth, but when Plainfield South returned to the field in the fifth, it posted two more runs as a result of a two-out infield error.

But Oswego East refused to go down easily, and in the bottom of the fifth, it rallied back, as sophomore right fielder Zac Devermann scored on a passed ball, and senior shortstop Nick Mazzocchi (2-for-4, RBI, two runs on the day) came around on junior catcher Josh Hemmer's RBI groundout.

"We've played very well in different phases of the game at different times," Kaminski said. "There were a couple games we put it all together, and in other games, some part of that was missing, whether it was the defense or the pitching or the bats.

"But for the most part, I've been really happy with the attitude and effort they've brought to the ballpark."

Spencer (1-for-2, RBI, two runs on the day) scored on Dabrowski's two-out single, but the game ended in the next at-bat, saddling the Wolves with a 6-5 defeat.

"Game 2 didn't go as planned early on," Kaminski said. "There were a couple of plays we didn't make, but we had the tying run at third base after we were chasing four runs in the bottom half of the last inning. I was proud of the kids competing that way."

Undoubtedly, Kaminski hopes his squad continues to compete at that level as it turns the corner from the summer season.

Though there are only a few weeks left in this play overall, he's hoping that they'll be open to the learning experiences ahead.

"They just need to compete," Kaminski said. "We need to make sure that we're grinding out every single inning, every single at-bat, every single play defensively. That's all I want our kids to do. I think they get better naturally because of that, whether you're up 10 or down 10.

"Trying to win every pitch, and trying to win every inning - that leads to hopefully trying to win every game. Not looking at the big picture, but trying to win it one game at a time."

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