Baseball: Nazareth to bank on pitching in postseason
Updated: July 1, 2012 12:29PM
Nazareth baseball coach Lee Milano knows that his team will go only as far as its deep pitching staff takes it.
A couple of unlikely sources have given the Roadrunners some much-needed innings on the mound in preparation for the postseason.
Sophomore Peter Minella and freshman Mike Kogut were promoted to varsity to fill spots created by injuries, and both have shined.
“Because of how certain things have gone down, with a couple guys not feeling 100 percent, we have used guys at the lower level,” Milano said. “Peter has done a nice job, with two conference wins, and our freshman Mike Kogut had a nice outing. They really stepped up for us.”
Nazareth swept St. Patrick in an East Suburban Catholic Conference doubleheader on May 15, winning the first game 10-0 and taking the nightcap 7-3 in a game that was suspended because of darkness.
Minella (2-0) pitched six shutout innings in the opener, allowing two hits and striking out six, to earn the win. Kogut allowed two runs on one hit in four innings to get the victory in Game 2.
Kyle Piotrowski went 3-for-3 to pace the offense in Game 1. Mike Stromberg went 3-for-3 (3 RBI), and Ryan Marske hit his second home run of the season in the second game.
Nazareth (25-8 overall) split an ESCC doubleheader with Carmel on Saturday, including a 7-2 victory. Dominic Purpura pitched a complete game, striking out six.
The Roadrunners finished fifth in the conference with a 9-7 league mark.
“We lost every starting position player from last year, so to win 25 games, and even nine wins in conference, is a nice accomplishment,” Milano said. “It’s definitely a credit to the kids, and the time and work they put in.”
Nazareth is the top seed in the Class 3A Glenbard South Sectional, and the Roadrunners could face either No. 8 Elmwood Park or No. 10 Little Village in the Nazareth Regional final on Saturday.
Marske, a key starting pitcher, was shut down a couple weeks ago because of an injury, and his status should become clearer by the end of the week.
Pitchers Purpura, Jake Bartels and Eddie Gengo have each come up big throughout the season.
“I believe we have the best pitching in our sectional,” Milano said. “Come playoff time, if you have two or maybe three guys throwing well, you give yourself a great chance to win. If we play defense and find ways to score runs, we’ll be in pretty good shape. Our sectional is more difficult than previous years, but you can’t worry about anything else. We just have to control how we play, and if we do that I think we’ll be fine.”