Lake County baseball notes: Mundelein making a statement in NSC race

Despite a currently undermanned pitching staff, the Mundelein baseball team continues to get it done.

The Mustangs were 14-4 overall and a strong 7-1 in North Suburban Conference action after defeating Warren twice earlier this week. Mundelein split a series with Stevenson in other recent play. As of this writing, Mundelein held a half-game lead over Libertyville and a full-game lead over Stevenson in the North Suburban race. Mundelein and Libertyville battle twice next week.

Junior Joey Kafka is 4-0 on the mound with a 1.36 ERA. He’s fanned 37 and walked seven in 20 2/3 innings. Sean Sanderson, also a junior, has been a key pitcher as well, coach Randy Lerner noted.

“Joey and Sean have stepped up into key starting roles with two returning arms currently sidelined,” he said.

Braden Carman leads the Mustangs offensively, hitting .489 (.579 on-base) with 23 hits, 17 runs scored, 16 RBI and 6 stolen bases.

Antioch update: The Sequoits started the year 2-6 and then recently went 5-2 during a 7-game span to bump to 7-8 overall and 3-3 in Northern Lake County Conference play. Antioch won 2 of 3 from defending conference champion Grayslake Central.

Nate Yeager leads the team with a .375 batting average, while Dylan Feldkamp is 3-0 with a 0.89 ERA on the mound with opposing hitters limited to an .085 batting average. “Dylan has been huge for us in his 3 starts,” coach Frank Fracek said.

Antioch has been benefitting from key contribution offensively from Connor Devine, Cameron Speich and Chris Cook, while Tyler Johnson has bolstered the pitching staff out of the bullpen. “Tyler has gotten us out of some huge spots in tight games,” said Fracek, whose team has played a tough schedule, including games against strong Wisconsin teams. “We are a work in progress, but we are keeping afloat while we figure things out.”

Grant update: The Bulldogs, recent 10-9 nonconference winners against Rockton Hononegah, started the week 9-7 and 1-5 in Northern Lake County games.

Braden Otahal is 3-2 on the mound, while Cole Bush and Adrian Medina are tied for the team lead in RBI with 12 each.

Connor Mirocha is leading the team in batting average and stolen bases.

“Connor is doing a great job in all facets of the game,” Grant coach Dave Behm said.

Behm also is high on the play of Ryne Dzierzynski. He plays shortstop and is also a key relief pitcher for the Bulldogs (3 saves this season).

“Ryne is playing a huge role as well, starting at shortstop and also closing games for us,” Behm said. “Ryno has hit most of the year from the leadoff or No. 2 spot in the order.”

Grayslake Central update: The Rams started the week 11-6 overall and 5-3 in Northern Lake County play. Seniors Jonny Restrepo (4-1, 1.02 ERA), Jadon Dumas (2-1, 1.30 ERA) and Jerry Miller (2-1, 0.80 ERA) have been key on the hill. Central sports a team ERA of 1.51.

Central downed Antioch 12-3 recently, snapping a 4-game losing streak, the longest in the 21-year coaching career of Troy Whalen. “It was a long week, but as I told the kids, nobody is going to feel sorry for you, so let’s move on to the next game,” said Whalen, whose team scored 3 runs combined in those 4 losses. “We have not helped ourselves offensively in really any facet from quality at-bats to execution on the bases. We have some talented hitters, but until we better understand hitting counts and our approach at the plate in game situations, the struggle will continue.”

Grayslake North update: A lot of recent good to unpack for the Knights (9-8, 4-4 NLCC), who took 2 of 3 from Grant in a league series and defeated Crystal Lake South 13-10 in 8 innings after trailing 10-5 heading into the seventh.

Last week, senior first baseman/outfielder/pitcher Cody Rakoncay went 11-for-16 with 2 doubles, 2 homers, 10 runs scored and 12 RBI (4-game stretch). Rakoncay started the week hitting .522 (.617 on-base, 1.399 OPS, .783 slug) with 21 runs scored and 24 RBI.

“Cody has had a sudden resurgence in which he is absolutely tearing it up,” North coach Eric Lopez said. “He’s a great kid who worked hard in the offseason and has really talent to the hitting instruction and philosophies within the baseball program.”

Senior Riley Lam leads the team with 3 home runs.

Senior outfielder Ethan Young has stepped in and filled a pitching-staff gap, throwing 6 innings of relief against Crystal Lake South and giving up only 1 earned run. He hadn’t pitched since freshman year. “That was a huge performance that allowed us to enjoy a big come-from-behind win,” Lopez said. “He went out and competed.”

Lake Zurich update: Good recent news for the Bears included a 5-3 North Suburban win earlier this week against Libertyville, and junior right fielder George DiCanio tearing an 0-2 pitch with 2 outs in the ninth inning over the fence for a 9-8 extra-sessions NSC win over Warren.

Lake Zurich stood at 9-8 overall and 4-3 in North Suburban action after the Libertyville game.

Of note in that Warren affair was the Bears being down by 2 runs and getting 2 runners on after two were out prior to the DiCanio jack.

Offensively, Ryan Kondrad leads Lake Zurich in 7 offensive categories, including hitting .535 with a .630 on-base percentage and a 1.116 slugging percentage. Kondrad has 23 singles, 7 doubles, 6 home runs and 19 RBI. Jonathan Fleaka is hitting .396, while Riley O’Donnell is hitting .379 and Michael Boenzi has been strong on the hill with 33 strikeouts and a 2.89 ERA.

“This team will fight to the end,” Lake Zurich coach Scott DeCaprio said. “We are never out and have plenty of come-from-behind wins.”

Lakes update: The Eagles opened the week with a 15-5 nonconference win over St. Viator to run their overall mark to 13-5. Lakes was 6-3 in Northern Lake County action through its first nine games.

Coach Chris Hoffman pointed out his squad is getting it done at the plate and on the hill. Lakes is hitting .332 as a team with 5 players hitting above .365. Lakes pitchers have a combined 2.88 ERA, buttressed by the efforts of Jason Jackson, who has a 1.68 ERA in 25 innings.

Stevenson update: The Patriots, who play in the crosstown classic Friday against Vernon Hills, started the week in good shape in North Suburban play at 5-1 (12-7 overall). Stevenson split with Mundelein last week.

On the mound over the last 2 weeks, Ben Fawcett was 2-0 with a 0.72 ERA, allowing only 1 earned run in 9 2/3 innings of work. Drew Clark during that same pan was 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. Clark (2.04 ERA) and Fawcett (2.26 ERA) were both 3-0 to start the week, while Yuni Hamideh was 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA.

At the plate, Brandon Schultz is hitting .370, while Frank Costabile is at .327.

Coach Nick Skala also has been pleased with the development of sophomore Aidan Crawley (.353 batting average). “Aidan is evolving into a varsity shortstop in front of our eyes,” he said.

Vernon Hills update: The Cougars started the week 4-13 overall, but 2-0 in Central Suburban North play (2-3 in CSC overall action). Vernon Hills lost to Libertyville 5-4 after leading 4-1 heading to the fifth. Coach Pasquale Atteo liked how his squad doubled New Trier’s hit total in a 7-5 loss. “We stayed with New Trier,” he said.

Rudy Mohredieck leads the team in hitting with a .348 batting average, while Connor Brockway has a 4.15 ERA in a team-leading 25 1/3 innings.

“Rudy has been a strong hitter in the 3-hole and has delivered hard-hit baseballs consistently in the last 5 games,” Atteo said earlier this week. “He is also our centerfielder and is talented, athletic and fast at the position.”

Warren update: The Blue Devils racked up recent wins against Lake Zurich, St. Viator and Lane Tech, while losing a pair of intense games to Libertyville in the eighth inning after being up a run and to Lake Zurich in the ninth inning after leading by 2 runs with 2 outs in the frame. Warren started the week 6-8 overall.

Liam Wiley is hitting .396 with 3 doubles and 2 home runs, while Zach Ausburn is hitting .376 and Brady Mann is at .364 for coach Clint Smothers’ squad.

In a 14-8 win over St. Viator, Peyton Balanag was the winning pitcher. Cam Meno had 2 hits, a triple and 3 RBI, while Jake Jurkacek had 2 hits, including a home run and 3 RBI. Mann also had 2 hits. In a 4-1 North Suburban Conference win over Lake Zurich, Braylan McCarthy threw a 7-inning complete game, striking out seven and allowing 1 earned run. Jack Wolf had 2 hits, including a double. McCarthy had 2 RBI, while Colin Dreckmann and Ausburn each had a hit.

Mann was the winner against Lane Tech and also went 4-for-5 at the plate. Meno had 2 hits (1 triple) and 2 RBI, while Wiley had 2 hits, including a home run. McCarthy had 2 hits and 2 RBI, while Jack Wolf had 2 hits.

Wauconda update: The Bulldogs are getting it done at the plate where they have 188 hits in 18 games and have scored 164 runs. Wauconda was 12-6 overall and 5-2 in Northern Lake County action to start the week. Zac Johnson (27 runs scored) was leading the team in hitting with a .424 batting average, followed by Danny Newman (.417) and Colin Christiansen (.379). Ryan Fostiak and Jackson Rudolph also have been notable.

Tyler Tylka is 5-1 with a 2.30 ERA, while Newman is 2-2 with a 2.20 ERA.

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