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Walk-off celebration : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
Walk-off celebration
Turnquist hits walk-off single to lift Oswego over Oswego East in 8 innings

by Laura M. Medina


Close games are nothing new to matchups between the Oswego East and Oswego baseball programs, even during the summer schedule.

The nearby rivals faced off again Monday afternoon, with the Panthers rallying for two runs in the bottom of the eighth to capture a 3-2, extra-innings victory over the visiting Wolves at Jackie's Field of Dreams in the first round of play at the 2nd Annual Rt. 59 Wood Bat Classic.

Both teams continued play on Tuesday, with the Panthers and Wolves dropping two games each. The tournament's final round was played Wednesday, as Oswego East faced Metea Valley in Game 1, and Oswego met Plainfield East in Game 2 for fifth place. Later that day, Yorkville and Neuqua Valley met in the title game at North Central College in Naperville, but results were unavailable at press time.

On Monday, scoring runs was at a premium for both teams, as they combined for 12 hits but scored just two runs overall in the first seven innings of the game.

Oswego East (13-12) jumped out to the early lead in the first.

First baseman Vince Shwartz flew out to center and allowed Jack Borvan to tag up at home. Borvan entered the game in place of centerfielder Dylan Jones, who injured his left foot on the base path and exited the game in the first. Jones' status for the remainder of the tournament was unknown.

Meanwhile, Oswego (8-6-2) notched the tying run in the fifth on a double steal by Austin Schlaker at second and left fielder Jake Rock at home.

"We could have executed earlier and not have it be as close of a game," Oswego East head coach Bobby Kaminski said. "We certainly had our opportunities. I don't know how many innings we didn't have runners in scoring position with less than two outs."

Aside from those two opportunities, neither team was giving up much in the offensive zone, thanks to some solid work on the mound and in the field.

For the Wolves, it was right-hander Mike Zalud shouldering the load. He gave up three hits, two runs (one earned) and one walk in 7 2-3 innings before teammate and fellow right-hander Sam Cummings came on with two outs in the eighth.

"We did not run the bases particularly well, but we did play good defense the whole day, and Mike pitched his tail off," Kaminski said. "Wish we could have gotten him a win, but it was great to see him out there continuing to develop.

"We lost three of our starting pitchers. I won't say we have a lot of question marks, but there's opportunities for guys to step up and earn a spot in the starting rotation or out of the bullpen next year, and so far, I'm pretty pleased with how we've pitched all summer."

On the opposite side, Panthers starting right-hander Marty Maves conceded a run, four hits and a walk and struck out one in 5 1-3 innings, and left-hander Jacob Nalley allowed a run, three hits and two walks, as well as two strikeouts, in 2 2-3 innings.

It was Nalley on the mound in extras after the teams played to a 1-1 tie after seven innings. In the eighth, a wild pitch allowed second baseman Noah Anderson to come home and give Oswego East the 2-1 lead.

"There were a couple times when Nalley was out there on the mound and we were wondering if we should take him out of there ... but he did well," Panthers head coach Mark Johnson said. "We left him in, and he battled his way out of a lot of situations."

With Zalud pitching as strongly as he did, things looked bleak for Oswego, which fell into two quick outs to start its half of the eighth. But Zalud issued his only walk of the game to third baseman Konor Gengler on four straight pitches and soon came out of the game in place of Cummings.

Cummings then gave up the game-tying double to second baseman Dominic Lukowski's in the next at-bat, allowing Gengler to come around and tie the score.

One batter later, Lukowski came home on shortstop Carter Turnquist's single to right field for the walk-off winner.

"We have really good kids. They really get along, and the one thing that stood out to me is that they didn't give up because we should have lost," Johnson said. "They outplayed us (...) but the good thing is we battled and never gave up. With these wooden bats, we had a lot of pop ups. We also hit line drives, they smoked those three balls, and that was the game."

For Johnson's team, the 2014 tournament was a first, thanks in part to an invitation from Kaminski, whose team played in it last summer. Both coaches agreed that there were certain benefits to the wooden-bat format.

"For a coach, (using the wooden bats) makes you focus on the little things," Johnson said. "Pitching and defense are so important. It magnifies every little mistake, and as a coach, you get to see what you need to improve on."

Kaminski added, "It's something the kids get excited about, something a little bit different. And last year it was a success, so we want to build on it and do it again this year. We focus on a lot of the small ball parts of the game - defense, bunting, pitching, hitting and running, that sort of thing."

Neither team had much time to dwell on the results of Monday's game with a quick turnaround for Tuesday and Wednesday, but the general sentiment for both teams as they wrapped up tournament play focused on the idea of consistency.

"Just playing solid baseball, fundamentally-sound baseball," Kaminski said. "If we continue to play games like this one and clean up some things on the bases, we're going to be in every ball game we play. That's all you can really ask for."

Oswego East and Oswego are both scheduled to start postseason play in the St. Charles East Summer Regional on Monday as part of the Illinois High School Coaches Association (IHSCA) Phil Lawler Summer State Classic. The fourth-seeded Wolves will face off against No. 13 Waubonsie Valley, while No. 11 Oswego will meet sixth-seeded Geneva. Game times were not released as of press time.

Notes: Oswego played a couple of close ones on Tuesday afternoon, falling 6-5 to Waubonsie Valley and 3-0 to Neuqua Valley.

The Panthers, who outhit the Warriors 12-10, trailed 5-1 heading into the fifth, when they scored two runs to cut into the deficit. Waubonsie Valley gained another one back in the bottom half to make it 6-3, but Oswego scored another two in the sixth. Colton White went 1-for-4 with two RBIs, while Mitch Gwodz and Austin Cepeda each finished 1-for-3 with an RBI. Jacob Nalley batted 3-for-3, and Konor Gengler and Carter Turnquist was 2-for-4.

Cameron Paladines gave up six runs (five earned), eight hits and two walks, fanning one in four innings. White came on in relief, conceding two hits and two walks and striking out two in two innings. Against the Wildcats, the Panthers mustered just three hits, with Gwodz leading the way with a 2-for-3 performance. Gengler allowed three runs (two earned), eight hits and four walks, while striking out six in 6 1-3 innings. Diego Barocio came on to secure the game's final two outs.

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