Baseball: Maine East battery sparking Blue Demons’ successMaine East's Cory Evans tags out Hoffman Estates Mark Roberts trying to steal. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 2, 2012 6:22PM
Last season wasn’t a whole lot of fun for the Maine East baseball team.
The Blue Demons managed just four wins and piled up 23 losses. But the early spring has brought resurgence to the Boys in Blue.
Maine East already has surpassed last season’s win total, and stood at 6-2 following a 4-0 loss to Taft on Saturday.
While senior brothers Cory and Andrew Evans and Tyler Glowacki have been a big part of the success, it’s a pair of upstart juniors who have the Blue Demons rolling.
Catcher Phil Papaioannou and pitcher A.J. Plis have been stellar through the first couple of weeks. Maine East coach Ron Clark couldn’t ask for much more.
“Phil has been outstanding behind the plate,” Clark said. “He blocks the ball really well and is very smart. His on-base percentage has been sky high — he takes a lot of walks. And he’s starting to hit the ball more and more. A.J. has had two really solid outings. (In a 7-6 win over Von Steuben on Friday), he did a good job keeping them off-balance. He’s started off really strongly.”
Both players have certainly enjoyed being part of a team trying to establish a winning tradition.
“We were playing really well on our first winning streak, putting the ball in play,” said Papaioannou, in his second year catching on varsity. “The experience I’ve got, knowing our pitchers’ tendencies and working really hard in the offseason, has helped a lot.”
Plis (2-0) has taken notice of how hard his team has been practicing, and how focused the Blue Demons are in their approach.
“A lot of people are pulling together and playing hard for each other,” Plis said. “We did a lot of offseason work, putting in extra hours, so it feels good.”
Last year’s tough season taught Papaioannou some very important lessons.
“I learned that it takes time to turn a program around, and the success we’re having now proves that it takes time,” he said. “We have two more wins than we did last year, so that’s a pretty big step. This year is our year to win and I’m really excited. We want double-digit wins and a higher seed in the playoffs. We just have to keep doing what we’re doing.”
The Demons hit a bump in the road Saturday loss against Taft. Lorenzo Aguayo was lights-out for the Eagles, tossing a complete-game, two-hitter (9 strikeouts) as the temperature hovered around 40 degrees.
Andrew Glowacki pitched well in the loss, giving up just two earned runs, and No. 9 hitter Muhammad Tabani accounted for both Blue Demons hits.
“I thought we were just a little flat, but we’ve proven we can hit,” Tabani said.
“We didn’t bring our ‘A’ game (Saturday),” Plis added. “We’ll have a few blips along the way, but it’s a long season.”