Gryaslake Central's Peloza puts the brakes on Lakes
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A stretch of frozen snow sprinkled with infield dirt, the length of a long lead off first base, marks the visitors dugout at Lakes.
It serves as a reminder that it's small-ball weather.
"It's good if you're out there for two minutes or less than 10 minutes (on the mound)," Grayslake Central senior Kevin Peloza, a small pitcher, said of the cold weather. "But after that it gets gruesome. I just go on the bench and get all my jackets and clothing on, and I'm pretty good after that."
Peloza iced Lakes on Friday.
The little lefty out-dueled Eagles 6-foot-5 sophomore righty Chase Slota, and visiting Grayslake Central got 3 sacrifice flies and a pair of sacrifice bunts to capture a 3-0 nonconference win.
"Kevin throws like he's in a rocking chair, and I mean that as a compliment," coach Troy Whalen said after his Rams improved to 5-4. "He's pretty free and easy. I'm really happy for him."
The 5-10 Peloza threw about 25 innings on a 30-win squad last season, making him the Rams' most-experienced pitcher this spring. His effort against Lakes (1-6) was just what Grayslake Central needed after three straight losses.
"He's around the plate," Whalen said. "A lot of groundballs. He gets it, he throws it. I think he's a fun guy to play defense behind."
Peloza scattered 3 hits, including a pair to Danny Jackson and a long double to Mike Bartlett. He walked two in his complete-game shutout.
"The curveball was definitely working for me," said Peloza, who got four of his 7 strikeouts on called-thirds. "And then the fastball was really located well today."
Freddie Landers' sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third with one out in the top of the first. Rams cleanup hitter Kyle Balling then lifted a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Ryan Fontana, who led off the game by reaching on a dropped flyball.
Fontana's sacrifice fly in the second scored Kyle Clark (leadoff single) and made it a 2-0 game. Then in the Grayslake Central third, Justin Dooley led off with a walk and stole second. He stopped at third on Landers' sharp single and scored on Balling's hard-hit fly to center.
"I've just been seeing the ball well lately," Balling said. "I was ready today, and I was able to lift those (sacrifice flies). I've been hitting everything on the ground lately. It's nice to finally get something in the air and help the team out."
Grayslake Central had just 3 hits itself — singles by Clark, Landers and Dooley — off Slota.
"I'm going to have to tell the kids that as soon as we can string three hits together, I'm going to have to take them to Tastee Freez," said Whalen, smiling. "I don't think we've strung three hits in a row all year yet. I think our kids are pressing at the plate. We've seen great pitching this year. It's early."
Lakes was playing its fourth game this week after going 1-2 on its Spring Break trip to the St. Louis area.
Slota pitched 5 innings, allowing only 1 earned run. The tall sophomore hit a couple of home runs on the Spring Break trip. Batting in the cleanup spot against Grayslake Central, he flied to center field and walked.
"He's done very well," said Eagles coach Ray Gialo, who was back on the bench for the first time since undergoing emergency surgery on Easter Sunday to repair a hernia.
"Today I thought he struggled a little bit getting ahead of hitters. He was pitching from behind in the count a lot. But he's done good things for us. He's got a nice future."
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