Baseball: Grayslake Central adds to victory flurry

 
 
Updated 4/20/2018 10:29 PM
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  • Grayslake Central's Clay Stoffel (24) and Kevin O'Brien celebrate after scoring against Grayslake North on Friday.

      Grayslake Central's Clay Stoffel (24) and Kevin O'Brien celebrate after scoring against Grayslake North on Friday. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Grayslake Central's Brandon Mikes scores against Grayslake North on Friday.

      Grayslake Central's Brandon Mikes scores against Grayslake North on Friday. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Grayslake North's Sebastian Sancen gets high-fives after scoring against Grayslake Central on Friday.

      Grayslake North's Sebastian Sancen gets high-fives after scoring against Grayslake Central on Friday. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Grayslake North's Jason Donohue throws to first against Grayslake Central on Friday.

      Grayslake North's Jason Donohue throws to first against Grayslake Central on Friday. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Grayslake Central's Clay Stoffel connects against Grayslake North on Friday.

      Grayslake Central's Clay Stoffel connects against Grayslake North on Friday. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Grayslake North's Ray Shoemaker fires to home plate against Grayslake Central on Friday.

      Grayslake North's Ray Shoemaker fires to home plate against Grayslake Central on Friday. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Grayslake North's Matt Heery connects against Grayslake Central on Friday.

      Grayslake North's Matt Heery connects against Grayslake Central on Friday. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

Aptly named for the frigid spring of 2018, Max Snowden is enjoying the Grayslake Central baseball team's hot streak.

"We've been solid everywhere we've needed to be, at the right times," said Snowden, the Rams' senior right fielder. "We've just come out and competed every single day."

Snowden and his teammates weren't snowed in at all this week, which started with the Rams shoveling snow off their own field. Friday's finale of the crosstown rivalry took Grayslake Central to Grayslake North, where the visitors kept their season-opening undefeated streak intact with a 14-3 win in six innings.

Grayslake Central's three-game sweep hiked its record to 13-0 and 6-0 in the Northern Lake County Conference.

"We're not focused on the numbers so much right now," winning pitcher Ray Bradley said. "We're just playing our game."

The two teams played a pair of one-run games on Tuesday and Thursday, and Game 3 looked early on that it might be another tight contest. Grayslake North (5-9-1, 1-4) bunted with No. 3 hitter Austin DeLao after Jason Donahue singled and Nate Marshall walked to lead off the bottom of the first against Bradley.

"Austin's a really good bunter," said coach Brett Hill, whose Knights scored 3 runs in the first game against the Rams and got shut out in the second. "I was like, 'We're going to manufacture and put a little pressure on them.' "

Sebastian Sancen's RBI groundout gave Grayslake North a 1-0 lead, but Grayslake Central responded with 5 runs in the second. Snowden started the rally by reaching on an infield single past the mound. Clay Stoffel (2-for-4) hit an RBI single to tie the score, and Kevin O'Brien (2-for-3) followed with an RBI double. Brandon Mikes added an RBI single, and Nic Presutti (1-for-2, double, 3 RBI) tacked on a sacrifice fly.

"We expected to come out here and do our thing as usual," said Snowden, who also had a sacrifice fly. "We were excited to sweep. We just wanted to pick up our offense. It hasn't been as good as we want it to be. We did what we wanted today."

Working with a 5-1 lead, Bradley stranded the bases loaded in the bottom of the second. The senior right-hander pitched 4⅔ innings, allowing 3 runs (2 earned).

"Based on the last couple of games, I knew I had to come out and have my best stuff," Bradley said. "I didn't come out with that, but it was amazing to get the offensive support in the second inning. That really picked me up, and I settled in the next couple of innings."

Bradley struck out only two, but included was a swinging third on the dangerous DeLao with a runner on to end the fourth.

"That was a 3-2 slider, and that was the pitch of the game," Grayslake Central coach Troy Whalen said. "(DeLao) is their best hitter. We haven't gotten him out in three years."

On another brisk day -- there was still some snow by the dugouts -- the teams combined for 10 errors.

"It just felt like it was going to be a flat day," Whalen said. "The last two games were intense. I thought it started that way today, but the 5-spot that the guys put on in the second inning allowed Ray to settle in. And Ray competed."

Grayslake North had only 5 hits, including an RBI double by Andrew Keaskowski, and walked three straight batters in Grayslake Central's 6-run sixth.

"It was our flat game," Hill said. "They were ready. (Grayslake Central) capitalized on our mistakes."

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