Adam Gomski had to battle through some early difficulties on the mound.
Catcher Kyle McBrien had to battle through some tough at-bats.
And their Grayslake North teammates followed right along as they battled back on the road Saturday morning for a 5-1 Fox Valley Conference crossover baseball victory over McHenry at Petersen Park.
"I told the kids, everyone from one through 22 on the roster did a nice job of adjusting," said Grayslake North coach Andy Strahan. "We came out flat and they came out flat. We talked about it and they made that adjustment."
Particularly Gomski as he retired 15 of the last 16 hitters in a complete-game 5-hitter with 4 strikeouts. The Knights (4-0, 1-0) senior right-hander survived a 19-pitch first inning with his only 2 walks by picking off runners at first and second.
Gomski relied primarily on a fastball and changeup to throw 53 of his 77 pitches for strikes. He went to a two-ball count on only two hitters in the final six innings.
"When he's on that's him," Strahan said.
"My stuff wasn't working in the first inning and (assistant) coach (Jon Sawyer) came up to me and said, 'Think like you're batting and pitch the opposite way,'" Gomski said. "That started to get me going in the right mindset.
"The team started picking me up and we started going from there. We started to pick each other up really well."
McHenry (6-4, 1-1) got 3 hits in the second inning as scored first on center fielder Adam Mattson's two-out single to left with runners at second and third. But Alex Alvarez provided a big boost with a perfect throw to McBrien to limit the damage to a run.
"That was a great motivator and it got everybody going, even the guys who weren't playing," Gomski said. "It was chemistry from there on and chemistry is huge. We rolled on from there and that's why we ended up with the 'W.'"
The Knights still had to break through against McHenry righty Kyle Snedeker. With one out in the fifth, McBrien fouled off three two-strike pitches and drew a walk.
"I like to see a lot of pitches," said McBrien, who also used the exact formula for a second-inning walk. "If they give me one to hit, I'll hit it, but I don't get too many of those. If I'm struggling to hit the ball, I'll find ways to get on base any way I can."
Matt Eney then sacrificed on his own and reached on an error. Leadoff man Nick Carmody (2-for-4) singled to center to load the bases and another error and Gomski's groundout put the Knights up 2-1.
JP Zalewski's leadoff single in the sixth and a throwing error set up McBrien's 2-run single past the first-base bag on the first pitch from Snedeker.
"It was really easy to pick him up," McBrien said of seeing 18 pitches in his first 2 at-bats. "He's a great pitcher but after seeing so many, it makes it easier as the game goes on."
Gomski retired 12 in a row after Mattson's single. Jason Petrillo made a nice scoop at first base on a throw in the dirt for the final out of the fifth and Eney made a diving catch of a liner in right-center for the second out of the sixth.
Cole Hoeppel-Tranter lined a single to right-center to start the McHenry seventh but Gomski ended it with a pair of called strikeouts and a comebacker.
"Any time you can get a win against a quality program like McHenry," Strahan said, "you know your kids played well."