Baseball: Colin Nowak leads Bartlett past ElginBartlett's Colin Nowak (17) pitches during the first inning at Bartlett High School in Bartlett, Ill., on Tuesday, April 3, 2012.
| Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media |
Updated: April 3, 2012 8:56PM
Fielding had been a problem at times in recent seasons for Bartlett’s baseball team, but Tuesday the Hawks showed they are starting to catch on to the science of glove work.
The Hawks turned a couple key double plays and got a few close outs at first base to complement six innings of four-hit ball from winning pitcher Colin Nowak in a 3-1 Upstate Eight Conference-opening victory that ended Elgin’s three-game winning streak.
“Defensively we’ve gotten a lot better even over the past few games,” said Nowak (2-0), who came up midway through his sophomore season last year to get in seven varsity starts. “At the beginning of the year we struggled a little but we’re starting to figure it out.”
Nowak and catcher Ryan Roszkawiak made possibly the biggest play when Elgin got back-to-back singles from Gage Teschner and Devin Simon leading off the fourth inning of a 2-0 game. Ryan Sitter tried sacrificing them over and Nowak picked up the bunt but threw to second for the force and shortstop Ben Grear turned it with a hard throw to first baseman Ben Havel for the double play. Then Nowak got out of the jam on a grounder.
“At first I was thinking go to first base, but our catcher (Roszkawiak) saw the runner going to second and thought it was going to be close enough that he told me ‘throw 2,’” Nowak said.
The Hawks got another double play in the third when Andrew Higdon was doubled off second on a throw by center fielder Robert Smith after a leadoff single and a sacrifice bunt. In addition to the double plays, Grear made a long throw to first from deep in the hole at short to end the fifth.
“That’s been a positive thing this spring,” Bartlett coach Chris Pemberton said. “When we pitch well it kind of carries over to the defense. We’re on the game, we’re making those plays and we’re not costing ourselves runs with extra baserunners.
“When we do those things, we’re going to win baseball games.”
Nowak walked three and struck out five before leaving in the seventh. That’s when it got real interesting as Elgin got to reliever Robert Sadowski for a run and put the tying runs in scoring position. Sitter singled and moved up on a two-out single by Chris Edwards. Then Higdon singled home Sitter and a wild pitch put both runners in scoring position. But Sadowski struck out Derek Strohmaier to end the threat.
“Robert made it a little tighter than we would have wanted but we got the result we wanted,” Pemberton said of Sadowski, who is 2-0 starting and got his first save.
Leaving runners in scoring position was a problem all day for Elgin (4-3, 0-1) as eight were stranded, including six in scoring position.
“Things weren’t going our way early, but we’re always going to battle you until you get that 21st out on us,” Elgin coach Dave Foerster said. “What made us successful in our three-game winning streak was we were getting the bunts down or putting it in play when we needed to. But today they made some nice plays to keep the rally down or we just didn’t execute.”
Bartlett (5-4, 1-0) got its runs off losing pitcher Alex Doty (1-1, 6 innings, 7 Ks, 3 walks, 6 hits) without a lot of big hits as the wind changed to blowing in and picked up just before the game. Nowak singled in Roszkawiak in the first after his catcher had reached on an error with two out. In the third, Dan Gallanis doubled home Grear, and in the bottom of the sixth Anthony Dyrkacz trotted home from third on a throwing error at second base.
“It wasn’t the offensive juggernaut we might have hoped to see but on a day like today with the wind blowing in and it’s gotten a little bit colder, we wanted to put balls in play and got fortunate on their miscues while running the bases well,” Pemberton said.