The pitching and wind kept hitters in check Wednesday. But for a brief moment both relented, and that allowed Fremd to come away with 3-1, 9-inning thriller over Conant in the MSL West opener for both baseball teams in Hoffman Estates.
Both starters were magnificent as they matched each other nearly pitch for pitch over the first 8 innings as the teams battled to a scoreless tie.
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Fremd's Mack Rosman allowed just 2 hits and 2 walks in his stint. The junior, who has committed to Northwestern, fanned 10 while throwing 72 of his 104 pitches for strikes.
Conant's Mike Matej was equally brilliant. The senior, who has yet give up an earned run this year, scattered 4 hits and walked one. He struck out 11 and threw 102 pitches with 66 for strikes.
Neither pitcher allowed a runner past second base in those 8 innings.
Fremd got a runner there three times, one on a two-out double by Ian Bohn in the first. Conant had a runner on second twice, a leadoff double by Gino Corona in the third, and Anthony Forte, who singled and was bunted along in the 7th.
And when both pitchers weren't pitching out of slight jams or striking out opposing batters, they were allowing lazy flyballs. Those flyballs then hit the 20 MPH winds that were blowing in and got knocked down for easy outs.
But things changed in the ninth, when both starters exited.
With one out, Rosman reached on an infield error with one out. Walks to Ryan Lenahan and Marcus Middlebrook loaded the bases for the Vikings (7-5, 1-0). After a strikeout, Jack Miller was at the plate.
"I watched every pitch from every batter before me," Miller said. "Everyone was taking, taking, taking, so I just thought I would swing for the fences."
And on a 1-0 pitch, Miller drove the ball to left center. But for that brief instant, the wind subsided just enough for the ball to carry just past the reach of a diving Danny Modelski in center field. The ball ended up at the wall, driving in all 3 runs.
"We came up with a big two-out hit," Fremd coach Chris Piggott said. "Jack did a great job of coming through for us. We have been struggling offensively, so that was good."
Conant (5-6, 0-1) tried to rally in its half of the ninth.
The Cougars had runners on first and third with one out. Steve Bola, who led off the inning with a single, scored on a wild pitch. But Fremd reliever Dan Pinderski got a fly out and strikeout to preserve the victory.
It made a winner out of Rosman, who'd had no decisions in his last two outings despite taking leads into the seventh inning.
"It was nice to come out with the win," Rosman said. "It has been tough this year, but my teammates came through for me today. It took a while to get a feel for all my pitches. After the fourth inning, I started feeling a lot better on the mound."
Piggott said that Rosman had simply had some tough luck before Wednesday.
"Mack has been pitching well for us all year," Piggott said. "We just haven't been able to close out games for him."
Conant coach Derek Fivelson, who is in his first year at the helm for the Cougars, said Matej has also pitched well so far.
"This is his third straight great outing," Fivelson said. "He is continuing to do the job for us. He just hasn't got the run support he has needed.
"We need to get those bats going. Once we do, I think we will be a team to be reckoned with."
Rolling Meadows 5, Buffalo Grove 0: Erik Schurtz improved to 2-1 with a complete-game, 6-hit shutout as visiting Meadows opened MSL East play with a victory.
Kevin Montero connected for a 3-run homer in the fourth inning for Meadows (5-3, 1-0), while Brett Gibson finished 3-for-3 and Schurtz had a pair of hits.
Palatine 7, Barrington 4: Andrew Bohlmann went 2-for-3 with a double and drove in 4 runs to power visiting Palatine past Barrington in an MSL West opener.
Brad Bauer also doubled in a 3-for-4, 2-RBI effort as Palatine (9-6, 1-0) produced 9 hits. The Pirates trailed 5-2 after the fourth inning but went ahead for good with a 5-run fifth. Matt Saltess had a pair of hits and also stole 2 bases.
Nolan Gavin allowed 1 earned run over 6⅔ innings to get the win, and Alexander Breytenbach got the final out to earn the save.
Joey Sciaccott doubled and scored for Barrington (10-5, 0-1), Anthony Lombard had 2 hits and an RBI and Jake Zyzda pitched 2⅓ innings of scoreless relief.
Hersey 8, Elk Grove 6: The visiting Huskies rallied for 5 runs in the top of the seventh inning to grab the lead on their way to an MSL East-opening triumph.
Leadoff man Joe Silva finished 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and had half of the hits for Hersey (4-6-1, 1-0). Mitch Smelser drove in 4 runs for the Huskies; Rich Carusiello got the win in relief and Tommie Pearson earned a save.
Brandon Post had 3 hits to lead Elk Grove's 14-hit attack, while Josh Bergbreiter and Daryl Rivera had 2 hits each.
Schaumburg 8, Hoffman Estates 1: The host Saxons got all of their scoring in the first three innings, and it was more than enough for senior Brad Schwind as the Hawks were limited to 1 hit in MSL West play.
Prospect 5, Wheeling 0: The visiting Knights got a strong pitching performance from Mike Smith to claim victory in their Mid-Suburban East opener. Pat Donohue and Mike Piotrowski doubled for Prospect (7-3-1), while Angelo DeBlasio suffered the loss despite allowing just 3 hits.
Maine West 7, Niles West 2: Eric Outlaw doubled and drove in 2 runs, and Chris Selgrad, Jake Riportella and Kyle Divelbiss had 2 hits apiece as the Warriors picked up a CSL victory.
Matt Swanson was strong on the mound for the Warriors (3-6), striking out 11 and allowing 6 hits in complete-game victory.
St. Viator 11, Grayslake Central 5: Matt Darling went 3-for-5 and drove in 4 runs and Bobby Calmeyn also had 3 hits to help power the visiting Lions in a nonconference win.
Matt Prazuch, Jack McNamara, and Kevin Monson each had 2 hits for the Lions (13-3) as George Burny earned the decision.