Lake County baseball notes: Grayslake Central’s Whalen reaches 500 milestone

The Grayslake Lake Central baseball team’s sustained record of success in recent years has led to longtime coach Troy Whalen hitting a special milestone.

Whalen recently hit the 500-career-win mark after a victory against Niles West. Whalen, as of press time, was 500-238 in 21 seasons at the helm on North Lake Street.

“It just shows I’m old and have been coaching a long time,” he quipped. “I have been blessed to be surrounded by great coaches at all levels, specifically Josh Peterson, Tony Tichy, Terry Toth and Bill Schufreider. We have shared many memories on and off the field.

“More importantly, Grayslake continues to show it’s a baseball community and I am so blessed to get kids who love the game of baseball and are willing to put their personal accomplishments on the side for the better of the team and team culture. We have had so many talented and hard-working kids come through the program. It makes our job easier.”

In those 21 seasons, Whalen’s squads have earned 7 Fox Valley or Northern Lake County conference titles, 14 regional, 7 sectional and 4 supersectional crowns. The 2023 team took second in the state, the 2009 and 2013 teams finished third and the 2014 team took fourth. Rams teams on Whalen’s watch have won 20 or more games 15 times and 30 or more wins six times. Whalen, a 2019 IHSBCA hall of fame inductee, has coached more than 100 players who have gone on to play the sport at the collegiate level. He’s a 5-time Class 3A area baseball coach of the year honoree.

Whalen, however, said the focus should remain on the kids, who this year are off to a 6-2 start.

Senior Jordan Dumas is hitting .500 with 12 hits and is tied for the team lead in RBI (11), while leading the team in runs scored (7). Sophomore Beckam Stone is at .444 and has 11 RBI.

Senior Jonny Restrepo leads a pitching staff by committee, Whalen noted. He’s emerging as one of Central’s top arms and sits at 3-0 with 10 strikeouts in 11 innings to go with a sub-1 ERA. Senior Jadon Dumas is 2-0 with 14 strikeouts in 9 innings while also sporting an ERA right around 1.00.

Antioch update: The Sequoits started the week 2-5 overall and 0-2 in Northern Lake County action after pair of setbacks to Lakes.

“We have played and flashed signs of good baseball in each game, but we have not executed in big situations and it has shown in the results of each game,” Antioch coach Frank Fracek said.

Mason Willis has been a jack-of-all-trades for Antioch out of the gates, Fracek noted. “Mason has been doing it all for us,” he said. “He has played almost every position while continuing to get on base.”

Nathan Yeager has been a bright spot on the mound. “Nathan has had two good outings in which he was competitive and gave our team a chance to win,” Fracek said.

Carmel update: Zach Case belted a 3-run homer in the seventh to give Carmel a 6-5 win over Lincoln High School. The Corsairs (4-4 overall) also opened East Suburban Catholic play with an 11-1 win over Marian Catholic.

Luke Nichol fanned six and gave up 1 hit in 6 innings against Marian. Medkao Curry (.423 batting average, 1.080 OPS, .616 slug, 1 homer), Case (.385, .467 OPS, .615 slug) and Jacob Chajet (.364, .500 on-base, 1.136 OPS, 2 homers, 4 steals) lead the way offensively.

Carmel stole 10 bases in the Marian win “and embodied the type of baseball we want to play at Carmel,” new Corsairs head coach Scott Anderson said.

In a future Lake County baseball notebook, we’ll look at Carmel’s data-driven approach this spring.

Grant update: Another hot Lake County start belongs to the Bulldogs, who entered the week at 7-1 after wins against Vernon Hills (4-1) and Machesney Park Harlem (12-3).

Jake Chrzastowski and Braden Otahal are both 3-0 on the mound “and have pitched really well for us so far,” coach Dave Behm noted. Connor Mirocha was cited for strong play at the plate, on defense and with stealing bases. “Connor seems to be involved in a few big plays every game for us,” Behm said.

Grayslake North update: Coach Eric Lopez was thrilled with how his team bounced back after a 1-hit 7-0 loss to town foe Grayslake Central to score a 14-3 five-inning win against them 16 hours later. North was 5-4 and 1-1 in NLCC action to start the week.

Senior Cody Rakoncay has drawn high marks. He’s hitting .500 (.621 on-base). “Cody has come a long way since last year,” coach Eric Lopez said. “He’s been working hard on his swing and approach and it’s rewarding to see him see the positive results.”

Senior Riley Lam has 2 home runs and leads the team with 12 RBI, while junior pitcher Cam Bates won his last two outings against Central and Georgetown Day School from Washington, D.C. Bates has fanned 21 in 11 2/3 innings.

Lakes update: The Eagles are off to a hot 6-2 start that included a 4-2 win over Antioch in their NLCC opener. Lakes also dropped a 2-1 game to Niles West. Mason Stiegleiter (.577, 13 Hits, 9 RBI), Owen Klosinski (.450), Spencer Kennamann (.385, 1 homer) and Derek Lucier (.333, 2 homers) lead the way offensively, while Jaden Jackson has a 1.50 ERA in 14 innings over 3 starts on the mound. Lakes has a team ERA of 2.10.

Libertyville update: The Wildcats are off to a 7-2-1 start with Zack Seiler (.529 batting average), Quinn Schmbow (.417, 3 homers, 3 doubles, 10 RBI), Anthony Fry (1-0, 0.82 ERA, 17 K, 1 BB in 17 innings), Josh Holst (1-0, 0.57 ERA, 17 K, 5 BB in 12 1/3 innings) and Chase Lockwood (2-0, 2 saves, 0.00 ERA, 12 K in 8 2/3 innings) leading the way at the plate and on the hill for coach Matt Thompson.

Mundelein update: The Mustangs (5-2) went 3-1 on a spring break trip to Millington, Tennessee with recent wins over West Memphis Christian (6-0) and Chicago Hope Academy (8-2).

Senior Braden Carman (6-for-15, 8 RBI, 5 R) and juniors Joey Kafka (0.00 ERA, 12 K, 5 2/3 innings) and Baris Brua (2-1, 10 K, 8 2/3 innings, 2.42 ERA) lead the way.

Stevenson update: The Patriots have piled up 12 games thus far (6-6) and started North Suburban Conference action with a 9-5 win over Lake Zurich. Stevenson also dropped a 6-4 game to Prairie Ridge.

Nick Rayyan is hitting .367 (.472 slug, .500 on-base) with a double, a homer and 8 RBI. Yunus Hamideh is 2-0 with an 0.80 ERA with 23 strikeouts (against only 4 walks) in 17 1/3 innings. Drew Clark is 2-0 with 13 strikeouts (4 walks) in 11 2/3 innings.

“Yuni and Clark are leading the pitching staff, going deep into games and giving us a chance to win ever time out,” Stevenson coach Nick Skala said. “Yuni’s stat line is crazy. He has started 3 games and left all three with us winning, only to go 1-0. He came in relief against Lake Zurich and got his second win, so I guess the baseball gods saw it his way.”

Skala added Rayyan, Brandon Schultz and Ryan Harris have been steady on offense.

Warren update: The Blue Devils (3-3 to start the week) are led by Camden Meno (.412 batting average), Colin Dreckman (.375) Angel Berrios (.353) and Jake Jurkacek (.294). Sophomore Peyton Balanag had a strong outing on the mound recently, allowing 1 hit over 6 innings, while fanning nine.

Wauconda update: The Bulldogs (5-4) recently beat Wheeling (12-2) and Vernon Hills (9-6). In those first 9 games, Wauconda has 83 hits, 8 homers and has swiped 23 bases. “We have focused on being aggressive and we steadily improved getting comfortable being aggressive,” coach Shawn Rudolph said.

Zach Johnson (.429 batting average), Ryan Fostiak (.412) and Jackson Rudolph (.355) lead the way at the plate. Carson Koehler and Fostiak each have 2 homers, while Danny Newman and Rudolph each have 8 RBI and Fostiak has 7. Tyler Tylka is 3-1 on the mound with a 1.24 ERA.

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