The relaxed, Hollywood smile on Derek Kornfeind's face suggests his confidence is back. So, the senior lefty is back in Lake Zurich's starting rotation.
And his performance against visiting Stevenson on Saturday morning suggests he's staying in it for the rest of the season.
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Kornfeind followed up his quality start against a hard-hitting Grant team eight days earlier by pitching a 3-hit shutout, as the Bears won 7-0 in a North Suburban Lake Division makeup game.
"I'm feeling really good lately," said Kornfeind, who's committed to pitch for the University of Dubuque (Division III). "I've just been throwing strikes, going after hitters and playing my game. I've been playing this game for a long time."
Kornfeind led Lake Zurich pitchers in appearances last year with 11, including 2 starts. He was the Bears' Opening Day starter in St. Louis, but he has also pitched in relief after a tough start against Lake Forest. Saturday marked the fourth time he started this season.
"I like relieving more," Kornfeind said. "I just feel more comfortable doing it. I don't like the pressure (of starting) that much, but I'm getting over it."
His effort against Grant gave him the confidence he put to good use against Stevenson. The shutout was his first on the varsity level.
"When he throws strikes, he's tough," coach Chuck Gandolfi said after his Lake Zurich squad improved to 4-4 in the NSC Lake. "That's his whole game -- attacking the hitters. When he gets in trouble is when he gets behind (in the count)."
The 5-foot-9 Kornfeind kept Stevenson (2-4 NSC Lake) off-balance with a fastball, changeup and curveball.
"Everything was pretty good," Kornfeind said after improving to 3-1. "Changeup was pretty good, I was throwing my fastball for strikes, and the curve was getting in there too."
Not much went right for Stevenson, which got only a double from Sean Wilson, a single from Joey Morris and a pinch-hit single by Justin Happ.
"This is not a good place for the Patriots," Stevenson coach Paul Mazzuca said. "We've struggled the last couple of years here. But their kid pitched well. No phase of our game was on today."
Lake Zurich's Steven Elrod continued his solid season, going 3-for-4 with an RBI single in the third, which gave home team a 1-0 lead, and a 2-run base hit in the sixth to make it a 6-0 game. The junior also stole a couple of bases.
"He's a really good ballplayer," said Gandolfi, whose Bears also got 2-for-4 efforts from Danny Neises and Steven Vanstedum, who singled home 2 runs in the fifth. Colton Wagner was 1-for-2 with a pair of walks, and Joey Holtz singled in the final run.
Following its morning loss, Stevenson headed to Buffalo Grove to play a nonconference game. Which is exactly what the Patriots needed.
"It gives us an opportunity to flush this one and get back on the field," Mazzuca said. "We got to right this."
Unfortunately for Stevenson, it had the same result, losing 5-1 to the Bison. Michael Banakis and Happ had the Patriots' only hits, as they fell to 8-9.
Lake Zurich also played a second game, driving to Rolling Meadows, where the Bears scored 7 runs in the seventh to pull out a 10-3 win and improve to 12-8. Wagner and Elrod each had a triple and an RBI. Danny Krueger and Sean Moran had 2-run singles in the seventh. Sam Zoibi doubled and got the win in relief.