BASEBALL: Bishop McNamara rebounds to win pitcher’s duel-turned-slugfest
KANKAKEE — For four innings on Saturday, it appeared as if the first team to score in Bishop McNamara’s Metro Suburban Conference crossover against Wheaton St. Francis would win the game.
But after falling behind 4-0 in the fifth inning, the Irish found their offense, scoring seven runs over the next two innings, to knock off the Spartans 7-5.
The Irish now stand at 12-6 on the season, including winning six of their past seven games.
“It’s good high school baseball and every day in the Metro Suburban Conference is good baseball,” Irish coach Kurt Quick said. “it was good to see the kid’s battle.”
Lanky sophomore southpaw Andrew Arseneau got the start on the mound for the Irish and he showed early on that he had some of his best stuff going. He worked all four corners of the plate, pairing his fastball with a devastating curveball that kept the Spartans off-balance, allowing just three hits through the first four innings.
“My curveball was keeping them off-balance, so they couldn’t really hit that,” Arseneau said. “And with the fastball, we were just changing it up a lot.”
But the top of the inning was a frustrating one for Arseneau and the Irish. After filling the bases on an error, a bunt single and a walk, Nick Kosmetatos unclogged the bases by sending an Arseneau offering over the left field fence for a grand slam, and just like that, the Irish trailed 4-0.
“I just knew I had to gather myself, but it was really frustrating,” Arseneau said. “(Quick) has a lot of confidence in me and it helps with facing batters, knowing that he has confidence in my pitches and that I can hit my spots.”
Quick not only had confidence in Arseneau, but also the Irish lineup, which at the time had been stymied by Spartans’ southpaw Ben Radel, who like Arseneau, had only allowed three hits in the first four innings.
“As a sophomore, he’s always around the strike zone and his offspeed pitch just keeps getting better,” Quick said of Arseneau. “I have a lot of confidence in him and after the grand slam, I told him he was going back out there and that we were going to score some runs.”
And score runs the Irish did. They got three runs back on four hits in the fifth, highlighted by doubles from Preston Goodman and Payton Gerberding.
And in the sixth, the Irish put together an impressive two-out rally. After Dom Koziol and Caleb Magruder singled, Jared Born drew a walk on a close call in a full count. Goodman was then hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, tying the game.
But the Irish weren’t done. Gerberding singled to drive in a pair, and the next at-bat, Goodman scored on a wild pitch to make it a 7-4 game.
Gerberding came in to close the game out in the seventh, where the Irish survived a slight scare, allowing a run and putting the tying runner on first on a single, and the potential go-ahead run on base with an error a batter later, before Gerberding buckled down with a strikeout to end the game.
“Their pitcher did a nice job against us, but the third time around the lineup, I told them, ‘He’s getting us with his offspeed pitches, let’s sit back and drive the ball,’ and we did,” Quick said. “We caught a few breaks and were able to get pressure on those guys and get it done.”
Arseneau ended up allowing four runs (three earned) on six scattered hits and a pair of walks, while racking up nine strikeouts.
Gerberding, Max O’Connor, Magruder and Koziol had two hits apiece. Gerberding, O’Connor and Goodman all drove in a pair of runs. Magruder and Goodman scored twice, while Born and Gerberding each scored a run.
The Irish will look to stay hot on Tuesday, when they travel to Norridge to take on Ridgewood at 4:30 p.m.