Forward-thinking Mundelein handles Stevenson
Following his walk-off double, which capped a surprising 10-0 win over Stevenson in five innings Tuesday, a smiling Sam Osisek trotted to nearly the third-base chalk line before his Mundelein baseball teammates greeted him happily.
The host team didn't mug Osisek or pile on top of him, however. The Mustangs' celebration was understated.
Which made sense considering the Mustangs' motto this season. They own gray T-shirts with the word "Next" on the back.
"That's all about just making sure we're focused on the next thing -- next pitch, next game," Osisek said after finishing 3-for-3 with 2 doubles and 5 RBI. "That's what we really focused on this week."
After Libertyville's sweep last week handed Mundelein its first losses in the North Suburban Lake, the Mustangs were looking to bounce back, knowing they will still finish first if they win out. Led by Osisek and 6-foot-4 sophomore lefty Brendan Murphy, who went the distance on the mound, Mundelein improved to 21-7 and 7-2 in the NSC Lake.
"I'm not sure which team we are yet," coach Todd Parola, whose Mustangs visit Stevenson today, said with a chuckle.
"It was rough coming off those two losses last week," Osisek said. "But we know if we win out, we can take control of the (division). It's something we didn't do last year, and we're looking to do it this year."
Stevenson (18-8-1, 4-4) could have pulled even with Mundelein in the loss column with a win. Patriots coach Paul Mazzuca said it was the first time this season his team lost by the 10-run rule.
"We didn't do anything well," Mazzuca said. "It all started with starting pitching. Hats off to their kid (Murphy). He was better than our kid. They competed better. They swung the bats better. They pitched better."
Mundelein jumped on Stevenson starter Tyler Pauly early, as its first four batters reached. Luke Peterson and Nick Stricker singled. Stevenson catcher Christian Dutler picked Peterson off second base, but after Osisek was hit by a pitch, cleanup hitter Nick Brune singled home Stricker. One out later, Reese Dolan (2-for-3) lofted an RBI single into right field to make it 2-0.
The Mustangs added 4 more runs in the second, as both Carter Naughton and Osisek (2 RBI) doubled. Reid Rubio started the inning with a single.
"We squared some balls up early, and that got us going," Parola said. "And then 'Murph' did the job on the mound."
The hard-throwing Murphy scattered 4 singles -- to Jimmy Marchese, Robby McGaha, Dylan Molek and Connor Crawley -- in improving to 7-0. He struck out five and walked one. Naughton, Mundelein's shortstop, turned an unassisted double play to help Murphy escape a two-on, none-out jam in the third. Murphy retired the last seven batters he faced.
"Early in the game, I was hitting my spots well with my fastball," Murphy said. "All of (Stevenson's) hits were off change-ups, but I got some key outs with my changeup."
Murphy used to throw a splitter. With the help of former Mundelein pitching coach Clay Kovac and ex-Mustangs lefty Jared Mandel (Iowa), Murphy picked up a changeup last summer.
"I just kept throwing it," Murphy said.
"He's got good composure," Parola said of his ace. "He doesn't get rattled too easily for a sophomore. He's able to mix up some speeds, and he throws hard enough to where he keeps (hitters) off balanced. He's got a huge upside. Right now, he's a decent high school pitcher. Hopefully he has the desire to get better, because if he does, he's got a chance to be pretty good."
Peterson delivered a bases-loaded sacrifice fly, and Osisek had a 2-run single in the third to make it 9-0. Stricker drew a one-out walk (Mundelein's eighth free pass) in the fifth and raced home on Osisek's double into the left-field corner.
"We definitely needed (the win)," Parola said. "We bounced back a little bit Saturday (10-0 win over Montini). We showed some life offensively, and it carried over to today."