Living in the past

  • Written by Ken Karson

Knights’ productive offense crushes Momence

Chicago Christian revisited its past on Saturday, much to coach Eric Brauer’s delight.
Not only were things the way they used to be, but more importantly, the way they ought to be.
At least that was Brauer’s viewpoint in the aftermath of his squad’s 12-0 demolition of Momence. What pleased him most wasn’t the run total itself, but how the Knights went about collecting their markers.
Christian stroked 10 hits and received six free passes, meaning that it brought 75 percent of its baserunners all the way around to the plate. That high success rate was a common occurrence for the Knights in 2013 and, according to Brauer, “how we pieced together 30 wins.”
“You capitalize as often as you can,” he said. “We did a better job of that [here].
“We’ve scored a lot of two-out runs [so far in 2014], but we’ve left a ton of guys on base [before this]. If you’re constantly leaving guys on base, it takes its toll.”
In this instance, the toll was taken on the Redskins, who lost in just 4 ½ innings at the Ray Kroc Center. Christian’s third game of the week at that Chicago-based site featured the locals scoring multiple runs in each of their four at-bats, with four-run eruptions in both the third and fourth innings representing the apexes.
Interestingly, five of the Knights’ RBI were accrued without benefit of a hit. Josh Novak lofted a sacrifice fly, Drew Van Buren and Pat McCarthy each drove in a run with a groundout, and Christian Bolhuis (walk) and Mike Santarelli (hit by pitch) got aboard while the bases were filled.

Bolhuis also smacked an RBI single, but Sean O’Meara struck the biggest blow with his three-run homer in the third frame, part of a 3-for-3, four-RBI day for the senior. Sophomore Trevor Wolterink contributed two hits to the cause.
Mindful of a six-game stretch that awaited Christian (5-1) this week in Florida, Brauer made sure to spread the pitching chores around and not rely too heavily on any one individual. Freshman Dan Vos, the only hurler to work more than one inning, pocketed his second win of the season.
Chicago Christian 4
Elmwood Park 2
The Knights’ attack was far less potent on Thursday, but it didn’t need to be explosive as Bolhuis kept the Tigers well in check. The junior triumphed for the second time this spring and 17th time as a varsity player by stopping Elmwood Park on three hits through four-plus stanzas while fanning 10 and walking just one.
Neither of the Tigers’ runs off Bolhuis in the fifth inning was earned.
“We were able to space him out and he had a very good outing,” Brauer said. “He had thrown 76 pitches in his first start and he got up to 93 here before we took him out.”
Bolhuis’ bevy of strikeouts obviously elevated his pitch count, but that also made it an easy day for Christian’s fielders and, ultimately, its hitters. Bolhuis supplied the Knights with an RBI single, Santarelli provided two hits and O’Meara knocked in a run with his sacrifice fly. Christian tallied twice on wild pitches during its third at-bat.
While Brauer hasn’t been thrilled with the Knights’ inability to get their offense rolling in earnest, he’s also well aware of what’s creating some of the struggles.
“The [weather] conditions have not been great so far,” Brauer said. “We’ve played in the cold and that’s part of it.
“But another part of it is we’ve got some young guys getting used to varsity baseball. We’ll get there, but a lot of guys are learning on the go. Jack De Vries, Max Kerfin and Sean O’Meara are our only three full-time guys returning from last year.”
Considering all that, Brauer stated he and his coaches “feel good about that 5-1 start.”
Reavis 6
Chicago Christian 5
The Knights’ lone stumble to date happened last Monday, when the Rams scored once in the eighth inning to squeeze out a victory after Christian had forged a 5-all tie with a three-run rally in the sixth.
What Brauer remembered most about that sixth stanza, though, was the Knights leaving the bases loaded. He also regretted Christian’s stranding of the potential winning run in scoring position one frame later. One other trouble spot was Reavis’ portion of the sixth, when a failed rundown extended the Rams’ plate appearance.
Instead of an ensuing fly ball representing the third out, it chased in one of Reavis’ runs. Three consecutive hits followed.
“It was a cold, windy day, and it was a challenging game,” Brauer said. “They outplayed us. They made more plays and they had more chances to score [because of] 10 hits, but if we make that rundown or get one more hit [in the sixth or seventh], we win the game.”
The Knights got RBI from Novak (two on a pair of singles), De Vries (groundout) and O’Meara (groundout), and they also picked up a run when the Rams were unable to do the same with a ball hit by Wolterink. Chris Lyle got tagged with the pitching defeat in relief of Vos.
Reavis 000 032 01 — 6
Chicago Christian 000 203 00 — 5
Chicago Christian RBI: Novak 2, De Vries, O’Meara. LP: Lyle (0-1).

Elmwood Park 000 020 0 — 2
Chicago Christian 002 110 x — 4
Chicago Christian RBI: Bolhuis, O’Meara. WP: Bolhuis (2-0).

Momence 000 00 — 0
Chicago Christian 224 4x — 12
Chicago Christian HR: O’Meara. RBI: O’Meara 4, Bolhuis 2, McCarthy, Novak, Santarelli, Van Buren. WP: D. Vos (2-0).