With a linebacker’s chest and thighs, 5-foot-9 Adam Gomski is never going to win a foot race on a Grayslake North baseball team full of fast guys.
Which doesn’t mean the Knights slugger with the truck driver’s handshake can’t floor it when needed.
Take Gomski’s leg double in the second inning of Grayslake North’s 10-7 win over visiting Hampshire in a Fox Valley Conference Fox Division game Saturday morning.
Take the senior’s fourth-inning stolen base, which was 1 of 8 in as many attempts by the home team.
“I don’t steal much,” said Gomski, a three-year varsity veteran who will play at Trinity International University in Deerfield next year.
“We were talking in the dugout,” Grayslake North coach Andy Strahan said. “Adam went to the mound to close out the game, and I was debating whether or not to use a courtesy runner (if he got on base in the sixth). (Someone said), ‘Well, he did steal a base earlier today, Coach.’
“Adam is a good baseball player,” Strahan added. “He knows the game. So while he may not be the fastest kid, he’s one of our better base runners. He knows the game as well as any kid that I’ve ever had.”
Carl Russell, another veteran, led the way offensively for Grayslake North (9-4, 6-3), going 3-for-4 with a double, 2 RBI and 2 stolen bases.
Like Grayslake North, Hampshire (7-9, 1-8) committed 4 errors, all in the first two innings, when the hosts scored 7 runs. For the game, the Whip-Purs allowed 3 walks and 2 hit batsmen and registered a combined 6 wild pitches and passed balls.
“Other than Huntley, we’ve been in every ballgame,” Whip-Purs coach John Sarna said. “That’s the frustrating part. We make too many mental mistakes and put ourselves in a hole. We don’t slap on that Band-Aid. ... Every time we scored, we let them back in it.”
Colin Gogoel’s RBI double, which nearly cleared the left-field fence, highlighted Hampshire’s 3-run second, which also included a pair of costly errors by Grayslake North.
But in the bottom of the inning, Gomski’s two-out hustle double scored Matt Eney to give the Knights a 4-3 lead.
“Our coach prefers that we’re aggressive on the bases,” Gomski said. “He says it’s better to be aggressive because that’s easier than being nonaggressive and stagnant and then trying to become aggressive. It’s easier to tone it down, than tone it up. So any base we can get, we try to take.”
Russell followed Gomski’s double with one of his own. Grayslake North’s 5-run second also featured Russell stealing third and scoring when the catcher’s throw sailed into left field.
“I always try to distract the pitcher or catcher so we can score,” Russell said.
JP Zalewski stole 3 bases for Grayslake North. Russell and Eney each had a pair of steals.
“We have a lot of kids right now that are being very aggressive on the bases,” Strahan said. “We’re confident on the bases. We ran really well (Friday in a win at Hampshire), and we ran really well today. We got good jumps.”
Grayslake North senior catcher Kyle McBrien helped keep Hampshire off the bases, throwing out runners on attempted steals of third in the fifth and sixth innings.
“Kyle McBrien played a great game,” Strahan said.
Hampshire cleanup hitter Tyler Crater, who on Thursday signed to play basketball and baseball at Olivet Nazarene, went 4-for-4 with 2 runs scored and a stolen base. Gogoel (2 RBI) and Brandon Bowen each had 2 hits. Like Gogoel, Michael Merchut had an RBI double for the Whip-Purs, who scored 5 unearned runs against Knights junior righty Alex Alvarez.
Alvarez pitched 4 innings in his first start of the season, earning the win. Gomski, the Knights’ third pitcher, threw scoreless frames in the sixth and seventh for his second save.
“I think we did good on the base paths, but we could have done a lot better defensively,” said Russell, who’s going to play next year at Carroll University in Wisconsin. “We kept banging away and getting hits, and that’s how we ended up winning.”
“They’re a good-hitting team,” Sarna said of the Knights. “Don’t take anything away from them. But we can compete if we fix some things.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.