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Establishing a rhythm : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Establishing a rhythm
Establishing a rhythm

by Laura M. Medina


One thing Oswego Cats field manager Todd Miller has been looking for this summer is establishing a rhythm for the young season. A winning weekend was exactly what the team needed to set things in the right direction.

After dropping the first game of a road doubleheader 11-1 at Quad Cities last Saturday, the Cats picked up a 7-3 win in the nightcap. They proceeded to sweep a twinbill 4-0 and 2-1 versus the Homestead Ranchers at Jackie's Field of Dreams on Sunday, wrapping up its fourth win in five games overall.

A 5-1, 11-inning triumph versus the Chicago Angels, a Chicago Suburban Baseball League associated member, last Tuesday night spurred the successful stretch.

"I said last week that 6-0 or 5-1 is where I wanted to come out of the week. We were 4-1, (because we were) rained out last Thursday (versus Joliet), so we were right where I thought we should be," Miller said.

Oswego (8-5, 6-4 CSBL) was working with momentum after last Tuesday's late-night win, but didn't exactly carry it into Saturday. It was a one-run game after the first two innings before Quad Cities piled it on, leading 6-1 prior to its five-run sixth.

Left-hander Kyle Doney (Waubonsee Community College) gave up those 11 runs on 12 hits, hitting a batter, walking six others and fanning one in 5 1-3 innings.

A lack of offense - four hits to the 76ers' 12 - certainly didn't help Doney's efforts. Chris Hill (North Central College), Clay Schuler (Valparaiso University), Tom Colletti (a recent commit to Ohio University) each hit 1-for-3. Johnny Peltz (Wheaton College) also went 1-for-3 and scored Oswego's only run.

Plate production, though, increased in Game 2, as the Cats muscled out 14 hits, using a four-run fifth and a three-run sixth to take a 7-2 lead before Quad Cities' final run in the seventh.

Right-hander Cody Love (Aurora University) allowed nine hits, three runs -- two earned - and a walk. He also fanned five in the complete-game effort.

"Saturday was a struggle. We went there with 10, myself included, mostly young guys," said Miller, who went 1-for-4 with two runs scored in game two. "Doney had a rough outing in game one.

"Game 2, we bounced back, and Cody pitched a terrific game. The offense woke up, we hit the ball pretty well and took advantage of a couple mistakes."

Hill and Schuler each went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, Colletti hit 2-for-4 with an RBI and Devin Ambrose (Tiffin University) went 3-for-3 with two runs scored. Love, meanwhile, went 2-for-4.

Oswego turned in two solid games on Sunday, starting with a 4-0 win versus Homestead in an early afternoon matchup with a CSBL foe. Left-hander Tyler Findlay (Aurora University) tossed five innings, giving up three hits and two walks, hitting a batter and striking out two.

Right-hander Ryan Millan (Elmhurst College) finished it out with three hits allowed and three strikeouts in two innings to earn a save.

Tom Ozlanski (Aurora University) hit 2-for-3 with an RBI, and Schuler went 1-for-3 with an RBI, while Peltz, Adam Lipscomb (Aurora University) and Ryan O'Dell (Edgewood College) each batted 1-for-3.

"We've had big contributions from all of the new guys," Miller said. "They are adapting to the speed of the game, and every day we see more and more improvement. Our pitching has been really good. I'm very happy with our progress and looking for more."

Sunday's nightcap was a decidedly tighter matchup, with the teams tied at 1 after four innings. Ozlanski (1-for-3) accounted for one RBI, and Ambrose, in a pinch-hitting situation, had the other in the fifth.

Four pitchers combined for the effort, with right-hander Kyle Ayers (Oswego High School) giving up a hit and two walks, hitting another batter and fanning six in four innings.

Right-handers Brent Bergeson (Aurora University) and Kelse Gengler (North Central College) pitched in relief, while left-hander Andy Grunewald (Park University) earned the save.

"We hit the ball fairly well but still let some opportunities slip," Miller said. "Game 2 was kind of a pitchers' duel. Ambrose had a big RBI-double late in that game to give us the lead."

During the weekend run, Miller was pleased with how his team responded to a bit of adversity.

"We've had some of our older guys out of lineup, so the young group has had to pick up, and for the most part, they've responded," he said. "Overall, I'm pleased with where we are. Everyone is contributing, either with the bat or defensively."

Miller will be expecting big contributions from everyone as the team begins another grueling stretch of seven games in seven days.

Oswego started the run with a 7-2 win against Romeoville at Judson University late Tuesday and returns to Jackie's Field of Dreams today, Thursday, against the Chicago Angels at 7:30 p.m.

A doubleheader at home against the Royals is scheduled for Saturday and a twinbill at Beecher is set for Sunday, with the seven-game swing ending Tuesday versus Crestwood at home.

""his will be a good week to really gauge where we are," Miller said. "I'd like to come out no worse than 5-2, but winning all of them would be fantastic. It is entirely possible, (but) we just can't let up.

"Some days, we come out a little flat, and good teams will get you if you do that. We have to be more consistent, both at the plate and in the field."

As Oswego continues to develop the consistency of a strong season, the team will be looking to its veterans to be the leaders and to its younger players to stay focused.

"We've been able to rest some guys, which is nice. We have Jay Clark (Waubonsee Community College) out with a tender arm, and Kevin Loukota (Northeastern University) has been out of town," Miller said. "We've rotated some of our outfielders and our middle infielders to give each of them a little time off.

"Clay (Schuler) has come back from a hamstring issue and still isn't 100 percent, but he's going to give you his all every time out. We're on the right path. This is where it should start to come together. Our pitching is lined up and healthy for this week. We just need some solid starts and the bats to do what they can do, and we will be just fine."

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