Baseball: Gardner-South Wilmington blazes from gatePlainfield Central's #10 Tim Blake starting and winning pitcher vs Lincoln-Way Central held at Lincoln-Way and Plainfield won 5-1 home on Wednesday, March 14, 2012. | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 27, 2012 7:10PM
Gardner-South Wilmington’s start has been as strange as the weather during the opening days of the Joliet-area baseball season.
The Panthers are off to a school-best 7-1 start after opening River Valley Conference play Monday with a 7-0 win over St. Anne. Gardner-South Wilmington has won 20 or more games just twice in its history.
“We have a lineup that can put the ball in play,” Panthers coach Jon Posing said. “When you do that, good things tend to happen. And, a little luck goes a long way. Anything can happen in baseball any given night. We’re playing real well right now, but you know that can change in a flash.”
The team is hitting .320. Mike Goodwin is on fire, hitting an unheard of .696 with three home runs, 16 hits and 17 RBI in eight games. He’s also 2-0 with a 1.14 ERA in two starts on the mound. Kwynn Rury is hitting .500 and Paul Hansen sits at .438.
The pitching staff has four complete games, including two no-hitters of Watseka by Shane Harty and Rury in a season-opening doubleheader sweep. Harty is 2-0 with a 0.50 ERA. As a staff, the Panthers have a 2.59 ERA.
“We have pretty solid pitching,” Posing said. “When a school of 200 can send out four or five good pitchers, you have a chance to win. Also, when you start the season off with two no-hitters in an Opening Day doubleheader against a solid Watseka team, things are going well.”
In a Saturday sweep of Wilmington, the Panthers trailed 4-0 before rallying for a 9-4 win in the opener and scored a run in the bottom of the seventh to take home an 8-7 victory in the nightcap.
Memorable season for Wildcats?
Plainfield Central hasn’t had a memorable season since before the turn of the century.
In fact, its last winning season was in 1999. Since the retirement of Plainfield Athletic Hall of Famer Don Martin, the program has burned through five coaches in 11 years.
Enter John Rosner, who has guided the Wildcats to a 3-1 start.
“We stress competing each and every day and for seven innings,” said Rosner, who was head coach at Bishop McNamara from 2003 to ’05 and an assistant at Plainfield North before moving over to Central. “That doesn’t mean we will always win, but that we played well. We also try and put our players in positions that are as game-like as possible, both mentally and physically. The players have done a great job adjusting to a new hard-nosed approach that, hopefully, will translate into victories.”
Keys thus far this season have been pitching and timely hitting. Plainfield Central beat Lincoln-Way North 7-6 on Eric Deloach’s walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning Saturday in Plainfield.
“Our pitching has kept us in games so far and hopefully we continue to swing it better,” Rosner said.