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posted: 4/24/2010 12:01 AM

Hoffman shows resilience; Maine West bounces back

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By Marty Maciaszek

The Cubs and White Sox are testaments to struggles at the beginning of a season getting magnified more than they would at other times.

Hoffman Estates baseball coach Todd Meador admitted he had some concerns after his team lost seven of its first eight games.

But the competition was hardly inferior as the Hawks faced Naperville Central, Huntley, Libertyville, Leyden, Bartlett and Glenbrook North.

It appears to have paid off as the resurgent Hawks. They put together a five-game winning streak and won their first three in the Mid-Suburban West before they suffered a stunning 26-0 loss in five innings to Fremd on Wednesday.

But they showed their resilience by bouncing back Friday to beat Schaumburg 2-0 behind the pitching of Mike Kiviranta and Erik Smoy.

"We stayed loose and relaxed when we were out there," Hoffman senior Colin Conway said of overcoming the difficult start.

"Everyone is clicking," said Smoy after his game-winning RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the seventh Monday against Palatine.

Seniors such as Conway, Smoy, all-area returnee and leadoff man Chris Fett, Kiviranta, cleanup man Zach Demmon, catcher Joe Gordon and right fielder J.T. Weaver kept Meador from pushing any panic buttons.

"This team is loaded with quality kids," Meador said. "Especially the senior class. It's a great, great group of kids.

"We have a nice mix of senior leaders, juniors who know their role and a couple of sophomores who provide a little extra spark."

Junior Trent Rehusch beat Lake Park and Barrington and junior outfielder Kevin Tednes has been a big key in the lineup behind Fett.

Sophomore Mark Roberts has looked good at shortstop and came in to close against Palatine. The only hit he allowed in the seventh was a bloop double.

"When we were struggling early we were challenging the kids for somebody to step up," Meador said. "Now that we're starting to turn it around you never know who that guy is. Guys are taking turns stepping up."

It's all helped Hoffman continue to take big steps forward.

Warriors put rough start behind them: Maine West had to fight through off-field issues with injuries and ineligibility that had an effect on the field.

But now the Warriors are bouncing back in their drive toward a repeat Central Suburban North title.

"The beginning of our season was very rough with how much adversity we had to through," said Maine West coach Joe Pederson. "Every day it seemed like there was something else negative. But at the end of the day we weeded through it all."

Pederson also brought up sophomores Ryan Ross and James Duckman to start alongside four-year varsity veteran center fielder Tommy Ross. Junior third baseman Paul Solka also returned ahead of schedule from a broken hand.

"I feel like we're finally meshing to be the team we can be," said Tommy Ross after Tuesday's 8-2 win over Deerfield. "We believe in ourselves and our pitching is starting to come together.

"We have to work through it and believe in ourselves and believe in our teammates to get the job done."

Key contributions from Duckman and Ryan Ross, who is Tommy Ross' cousin, have been a big part of a turnaround that started with a 15-9 win over defending Class 4A state champion New Trier.

"They're doing pretty good at filling their roles, which is good," said Maine West junior pitcher Josh Wright. "You always need that."

Tearing it up: Conant sophomore shortstop Kyle Gizynski hasn't had any problem adjusting to varsity pitching. Gizynski is hitting around .550 in the No. 3 spot in the lineup.

"He works hard - he's probably one of our hardest workers out here," said Conant coach Jerry Song. "He knows how to adjust. He's learning every time and we're really happy with the way he's hitting the ball."

Special K returns: Schaumburg was giving up runs at an alarming and uncustomary rate - 13 a game in three straight losses and a 15-15 tie where St. Viator hit a two-out grand slam in the bottom of the seventh.

But junior Kurt Kempema restored some order in his first start in more than two weeks Monday at Fremd. Kempema allowed only a first-inning run and 4 hits with 5 strikeouts and a walk in a 2-1 victory.

"He pitched great," said Schaumburg coach Paul Groot. "He was ahead of every guy and he did a great job."

Kempema also kept Hoffman scoreless into the seventh in a 2-0 loss Friday.

The fewest runs Schaumburg had allowed in its first 11 games was in a 7-5 win over Maine South.

Groot has also liked what he's seen from junior Roger Lane. He allowed only 2 runs in 5 innings and got a no-decision against Streamwood and threw 22/3 scoreless innings of relief Thursday against Barrington.

Wild pair: The scores of Leyden's West Suburban Gold doubleheader with Addison Trail two weeks ago almost makes it appear as if the games were played at different sites.

In the opener, Leyden's Dan Savas allowed only 2 hits and had 13 strikeouts but was a 3-0 loser. Then in the second game, Addison Trail held on to win 21-19.

"After the first game I fired the hitting coach and that's me," joked Leyden coach Gary Wolf. "After the second game I fired the pitching coach and that's (Rob) Hamman.

"I've never been in game like that. Over the years we've scored 20 runs and a couple of times Lyons came in with all-state players and hit 19 or 20.

"But I've never had a game where you score seven and the next inning the other team scores eight. It was crazy."

And Game 2 football references were apropos since Addison Trail head coach Paul Parpet just retired in the fall from leading the football program.

"I knew I was out of my element," Wolf said with a laugh.

Infield flies: Elk Grove junior center fielder Carl Sugihara was hitting .500 (9-for-18) when he tore an MCL in his knee when his cleats got caught as he was coming out of the batter's box. Elk Grove coach Terry Beyna hopes to have Sugihara back before the end of the season - Former Hoffman Estates star catcher and big leaguer Sal Fasano is in his first year as manager of the Lansing Lugnuts, the Midwest League Class A affiliate of the Blue Jays - When Illinois-bound left-hander Robby McDonnell of Barrington struck out the first 11 hitters he faced of the season against York it was a sign of things to come. It was one of three 13-strikeout games for McDonnell, who has hit double figures in five of six starts - Buffalo Grove senior catcher Steve Pollakov committed to the University of Rochester (N.Y.), which is ranked 21st by ... St. Viator will host the makeup of its game with cross-town rival Hersey on May 24. It was originally scheduled as a night game at Rec Park but was postponed with temperatures in the low 30s. Viator will be under the lights at 7 p.m. Monday for its East Suburban Catholic Conference game at Notre Dame.