An old-fashioned beanball war in Grayslake?
Well, not quite, despite the home-standing Rams of Grayslake Central getting hit five 5 different times by the Round Lake pitching staff.
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"I have too much respect for coach Ed Adamson to think they were throwing at our guys,'' said Central baseball coach Troy Whalen. "And actually, I'm glad they plunked us because we weren't hitting."
Among the beaned was Central leadoff hitter, Freddie Landers. After 3 at-bats, he'd reached base via one walk and two hit-by-pitches. And he wasn't complaining. Throwing the pitches was his old travel baseball teammate, Tyler Sanchez.
"I'll have to send him a text about that,'' Landers said.
OK, opening day baseball in the state of Illinois wasn't the prettiest of ballgames. Central, which played four games at Disney World in Orlando, beat the Panthers, who were playing their first game of the season, 12-4.
"I think I saw only one strike in those at-bats,'' Landers noted.
The visitors hung around in the early innings with the defending third-place state finisher from last year. Round Lake shortstop Ryan Newman doubled and scored on Sanchez's hit as the Panthers drew first blood.
"It was nice to be outside,'' Adamson said. "Our field is not ready yet. I like how my team continued to fight. We were very aggressive on the basepaths. We just need to throw more strikes."
In addition to the five hit batters, there were 7 walks issued by the Panthers' staff.
In the early going, Whalen's Rams used the bunt to their advantage.
Ninth-place hitter Justin Dooley ended the small ball attack with a second-inning double.
"It was my first at-bat,'' Dooley said. "I had two strikes on me and wanted to put a good swing on it."
The Rams (3-2) broke the game open in the third inning. The big hit of the frame came via a pinch hit from junior Jeff Terronez, which drove in 2 runs.
Otherwise it was 4 walks, a hit by pitch and a bunt single from junior Jon Hoffmann, who had a 3-hit game (2 of them via bunts).
Trailing 8-2 after 3 innings, the Panthers looked destined to lose by the 10-run rule. Instead, leadoff hitter Jalen Young, reached base every time and scored 3 runs. Sanchez doubled in a run in the fifth inning as he finished with 2 RBI.
Central, with a busy week scheduled, used five pitchers in the win.
"It was nothing against Round Lake,'' Landers said. "But they are not in our conference."
Landers felt his team wasn't totally focused.
"Baseball is always fun,'' he said. "But this was kind of a melancholy atmosphere today."
Meanwhile, Whalen was just happy to get back on his home field.
"The last time we were here, we were shoveling snow instead of taking batting practice,'' Whalen said. "Hey, it was 60 degrees today so it was balmy."
Of course in Florida, the Rams took in some better weather.
"It was in the 80s there,'' Whalen said. "We saw some good competition down there."