Anthony Holubecki is only a sophomore but he also is considered the ace of Kaneland's pitching staff.
Holubecki (4-1) lived up to his top billing Monday afternoon, allowing just 2 hits while racking up 9 strikeouts in 6 innings of work during the Knights' 2-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 East triumph over Yorkville (14-7, 4-2) in Maple Park.
"I know they have a lot of good hitters over there in the middle of their lineup," said Holubecki of the Foxes' lineup that smacked 11 home runs over their first 20 games. "It felt good to get ahead early and I was in control from there."
Relying on an above-average fastball, the right-handed fireballer fanned 4 of the first 5 batters he faced and recorded 9 strikeouts over the first 4 innings.
"At points, it looks unfair -- and he's only a sophomore," Aversa said of the Notre Dame commit. "He has really settled down from last year (when he was called up to the varsity team during the season). He could be 5-0 right now. He lost to Moeller (Ohio) and they're the No. 5 team in the nation so that's an OK loss.
"He's the most level-headed kid in the world kind of like Casey (former Kaneland standout Crosby) was -- down-to-earth and humble about everything. He just goes out and does his job whenever we ask him to."
Despite all of his early-inning success, Holubecki found himself locked in a pitchers' duel with Yorkville right-hander Nick Sewruk (3-1) throughout the first 5 ½ innings until the Knights (11-4, 7-0) finally broke through in their half of the sixth.
Jacob Bachio led off with a single and advanced to second on Lucas Wolski's sacrifice bunt. After Bachio raced to third on a wild pitch, Panico delivered an RBI single to left-center to give the Knights a 1-0 lead.
Senior catcher Sean Dunphy, who was pressed into action in the third inning after starter Joe Laudont suffered a thumb injury, moved Panico along to third with a single to right and Tyler Carlson's RBI groundout upped the lead to 2-0.
"Hats off to Sean Dunphy," said Aversa. "Sean stepped right in and got two hits."
Yorkville's Kyle Shimp led off the seventh with a single and after a walk to Tom Kinney, Aversa summoned Nick Stahl from the bullpen.
Nathan Scott's sacrifice bunt moved the runners into scoring position but Stahl retired Matt Gruber on a foul pop to first baseman Carlson before finishing off the Foxes with a strikeout on a sharp breaking ball.
"Stahl came in with two men on and shut the door," said Holubecki. "He's got nasty off-speed stuff."
"Nick does a great job with control," said Aversa. "He just pounds the zone. He has been a guy we can lean on in the later innings."
"All you can ask for is a chance to tie it up," said Yorkville coach Scott Luken. "Unfortunately we just didn't get it done.
"We talked to our guys about making an adjustment -- some of them did and some of them didn't. That's high school baseball."
With the win, the Knights opened a 2-game lead over Yorkville in the Northern Illinois Big XII East.
The 3-game series continues Tuesday in Yorkville.
"This is always a big series," said Aversa.
"We have two more to play with them and they still have a lot of games to go and so do we," said Luken. "We think marathon not sprint."