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updated: 4/18/2014 5:35 PM

Shared baseball future for Warren trio

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  • Warren infielder Dominic Cuevas, right, along with teammates Ben Dinter and Wes Gordon, will play next year for the College of Lake County.

      Warren infielder Dominic Cuevas, right, along with teammates Ben Dinter and Wes Gordon, will play next year for the College of Lake County.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 

As three of only six seniors on Warren's 22-player roster, veterans Ben Dinter, Dom Cuevas and Wes Gordon stick close together.

"The three of them have become this vocal group of leaders for our team," Warren coach Clint Smothers said. "They are doing a great job of showing our younger guys how to play."

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Next year, they'll be the young guys. But at least they'll still be together.

Dinter, Cuevas and Gordon will continue their strong connection in college. All three of them signed this week to play baseball next season at College of Lake County.

It's possible that all three could play infield positions at CLC. Dinter plays third base while Cuevas is a shortstop and Gordon has played second base and first base and has done some pitching.

In fact, Gordon and Andrew Hill will be jockeying this season for the ace role for the Blue Devils. Gordon entered the week having pitched 14 innings with a 0.49 earned run average.

"Wes and our other seniors have played really well so far this year. Dinter hit a home run to help us beat a really good Grant team. And Dom (Cuevas) has been really consistent for us," Smothers said. "I think they're all really rubbing off on our younger guys."

Two other players at Warren have also signed to play in college next year. Josh Tharp will be playing at Judson while Ryan Kain signed with Augsburg College in Minnesota.

Catch all:

Hovering at around .500 so far this season, Antioch has some positives to build on -- and some kinks to work out.

Catcher Adam Harvey has helped make the latter seem less serious.

"Adam is playing really, really well. He's a solid catcher," Antioch coach Paul Petty said. "He's been up with us for three years now. He's pretty experienced and he's been blocking up a million balls for us this season.

"When you have a catcher who can cover up your flaws like that, it really helps."

Switch-a-roo:

It doesn't seem like a big change, but Sam Smithson of Antioch is finding out that moving from second base to shortstop can be tricky.

"It can actually be quite an adjustment," Antioch coach Paul Petty said. "You really have to work on getting the ball out of your glove a lot faster. There is not as much margin for error.

"At second, you can bobble the ball and still get it to first for the out. You do that at shortstop and you'll probably be too late. Sam is figuring it all out and figuring out how to play faster and how to attack the ball."

Switch-a-roo, 2:

Sam Smithson isn't the only player at Antioch who is dealing with a position change.

Colin Prather played in the infield last year, and is now in the outfield.

"It's more of a skill level that would benefit him in the future," Antioch coach Paul Petty said of Prather being moved to the outfield." We think he'll get looked out more if he plays out there. It's the best position for his future."

One thing or another:

It hasn't been a smooth start to the season for Lakes junior center fielder Ethan Sage.

The day before the Eagles' season opener, Sage sliced up his toe. He and his teammates were enjoying some pool time as part of their Spring Break trip to downstate Illinois and the St. Louis area. Sage cut his toe on the pool drain, which forced him to sit about for about a week.

Just as Sage was preparing to return, he came down with strep throat.

In all, Sage missed the first five games of the season. And the Eagles went 0-5. When Sage returned, the Eagles won the first two games he played in.

"The start of the season definitely didn't turn out the way I wanted it to," Sage said. "It was pretty frustrating, and then in my first game back, I went 0-for-3.

"But I'm getting back into the swing of things now and I'm ready to go for the rest of the season."

In his second game back, Sage looked more like the player that was a .400 hitter on the sophomore team last year. He went 3-for-4 against Zion-Benton with a double and 2 runs scored.

"We feel that once he gets going, he's going to be a key contributor for us," Lakes coach Ray Gialo said of Sage. "It's been a really good year for him in everything. He's a strong, explosive athlete with a lot of talent."

Sage became the starting quarterback at Lakes last fall when standout TJ Edwards went down with an injury. He also was one of the top players on the basketball team this winter. He averaged about 10 points and pulled down a team-leading 7 rebounds per game.

Good class:

With only five seniors back from last year, Lakes is a young team.

But coach Ray Gialo isn't about to lower expectations.

Some of his best players happen to be among the youngest.

The junior class is filled with talent. As sophomores last year, they won 29 games. And that was with two of their top players, Billy Morris and Chase Slota, having been pulled up to the varsity.

As freshmen, the group won 34 games.

"This junior class has been very successful and has grown accustomed to it," Gialo said. "When we were struggling earlier this season (0-5 start), it didn't sit well with those juniors. They are very competitive and talented and I think when they get some varsity experience under their belts, they're going to do a lot of good things for us."

Morris started most of last season at second base for the Eagles and is now at shortstop. He also pitches, as does Slota, who will be one of the top two pitchers in the Lakes rotation this season.

"We don't have a lot of experience and we are really young, but those two guys really bring some leadership to that junior group," Gialo said of Morris and Slota.

Game on:

The weather hasn't been very cooperative this spring.

At Round Lake, the baseball team has been hit particularly hard. Heading into this week, the Panthers had gotten in only five games, and had had 14 games canceled due to bad weather.

"We were scheduled to play 12 games before and during Spring Break and we didn't play any of them," Round Lake coach Ed Adamson said. "We've lost games to snow and hail. It seems like we're going to be playing every day now through the end of the season."

At least the Panthers know that any home games in that stretch should be playable…if Mother Nature cooperates.

They've got a revamped field that is ready for action.

In the past, Round Lake also lost games because of field conditions. The Panthers' home field often wouldn't drain well and many games there wound up being cancelled, even on sunny days.

"We got a new infield this past summer and it's been great. We're pretty much always ready to play now," Adamson said. "We took all the old stuff out, we got new dirt and it's helped with the drainage and the maintenance. In the past, we were having to play a lot of our games on the road because our field wouldn't be ready. It's been really nice to have this new field. Now, we've just got to get the temperatures above freezing."

Fearsome foursome:

With two lefties and two righties and some significant experience mixed in, the Round Lake pitching rotation is in good shape.

"Our top four guys have some really good stuff," Round Lake coach Ed Adamson said of Ryan Newman, Alex Gibson, Tyler Sanchez and John Ridley. "They all have their own style, which is really nice, too.

Gibson and Sanchez are the left-handers and Newman and Ridley are righties.

Newman is a fourth-year varsity veteran who is a high-level student at Round Lake. He wants to get into engineering and is looking at pitching opportunities at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. He's already been accepted at the University of Illinois.

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