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Winning on home turf : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Winning on home turf
Oswego Cats push back to .500 with wins over Crestwood, Westmont

by Laura M. Medina


Rainy conditions might have complicated the summer schedule, but the Oswego Cats took advantage of as many games as possible to return to the .500 mark, using a pair of home victories in Chicago Suburban Baseball League competition to get back on track.

Oswego improved to 3-3 overall - with all games counting toward the CSBL standings - on the season following a 9-1 win versus Crestwood on June 4 and a 6-3 triumph against Westmont on Sunday. Two other games on the Cats' recent schedule, however, could not be played.

The team was to play Addison at Jackie's Field of Dreams last Thursday, but it was bumped in favor of an IHSA Class 4A Sectional hosted by Oswego High School, which had to cancel games the previous day due to the weather.

Field conditions weren't exactly ideal as the weekend continued, meaning Oswego also had to reorganize its doubleheader with Westmont, shifting instead to a late-start, nine-game contest.

Still, the Cats were able to make the most of their opportunities despite the circumstances, and the wins came at the perfect time following their 1-3 start.

"Our pitching has been outstanding this season; we really haven't had a bad outing," Cats field manager Todd Miller said. "As our pitching and hitting start working together, we're going to do well.

"They're just learning to play with each other. I reminded them the other day that the reason they're here is to play the game, and that's what they're doing. They're a good group of guys, and they get along well. That'll go a long way, too."

Against Crestwood, newcomer Tom Colletti (Waubonsee Community College) cruised through his outing. The right-hander earned his first win in his inaugural start, tossing six almost spotless innings of three-hit baseball. He walked two but fanned eight in the effort.

Colletti also benefitted from Oswego's productivity in a seven-run second inning. Ryan O'Dell (Edgewood College) led the offense with a 3-for-4 day with two RBIs.

Left-hander Brett Assell (Waubonsee Community College) gave up a run, two hits, and four walks in two innings of relief, while left-hander Kyle Doney (Waubonsee Community College) walked one, hit one, and struck out three in the ninth to secure the 9-1 win.

Sunday's contest versus Westmont rested on the shoulders of the Cats' offense, which powered out a season-best 13 hits. Mike Cherven (Aurora University) hit 2-for-3 with two RBIs, and Zach Deutscher (North Park University) went 3-for-3 with an RBI.

O'Dell was 2-for-5 with an RBI, and Colletti batted 2-for-4 on the day.

Right-hander Kyle Ayers (Oswego High School) was on the bump for the Cats, and the CSBL Pitcher of the Year gave up two runs and four hits, hit two and walked one, while fanning seven in six innings of work.

Ayers gave way to right-hander Ryan Millan (Elmhurst College) who conceded a hit, run, and walk, while also striking out three in two innings. Right-hander Kelse Gengler (North Central College) closed out the ninth with a hit allowed and a strikeout in the ninth in the 6-3 win.

"Everybody is starting to settle in," Miller said. "It was a great game against Crestwood. Tom pitched well and left with a 7-0 lead.

"Players are starting to contribute. And against Westmont, they were starting to hit the ball, and we were starting to get comfortable. Kyle shook off a little bit of rust, but he's getting back into it. We pulled him a little early to get other guys some work."

Rain might have made things a bit tenuous for the Cats in recent days, but it has provided several players with days of rest.

Outfielder Clay Schuler (Valparaiso University) went down with an injury against Crestwood and could return over the weekend. Additionally, several players will return to the lineup now that their spring semesters have wrapped.

It is depth that has allowed Oswego such a luxury, and this is perhaps the team's best asset in 2014, particularly as it approaches its busiest stretch of the schedule with eight games in seven days starting Sunday afternoon with a doubleheader at Crystal Lake.

Single games are then slated against the Chicago Angels on June 17 and Joliet two days later. Twinbills are also set for June 21 against Quad Cities on the road and Homestead the following day at Jackie's Field of Dreams.

"It's hard to get into a rotation with some of these factors," Miller said. "We're starting a stretch of eight games in seven days, and our depth and our pitching will come in handy. If we play like I know we can, we'll be successful.

"If it was last year at this time, we'd have been stuck. Rosters change so much, but we've been lucky to have a lot of the same guys for the last few years. We just have to play our game. When we don't handle what we're doing, we make mistakes. If we play the right way and try not to concern ourselves with specific matchups, then we're going to win more games than not."

Notes: Tuesday's game will be Oswego's first-ever meeting with the Chicago Angels, which comes to the CSBL as an associate member after 25 years in the Chicago Central Men's Senior Baseball League. Chicago won the 2013 CCMSBL crown in the 21-and-over division, which folded after last season.

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