Baseball: Lake Zurich armed and dangerous with DeLuga, Snep
Before they show off their big arms in the Big Ten, Lake Zurich baseball teammates Noah DeLuga and Tyler Snep are focused on making sure the Bears have a big season.
What Lake Zurich did Tuesday was no small feat.
Behind DeLuga's complete-game effort on the mound and Snep's efforts both behind the plate and in the batter's box, the Bears shut out host Stevenson 7-0 in a North Suburban Conference showdown.
Lake Zurich improved to 9-4 and 4-1 in the NSC, while Stevenson fell to 9-5 and 3-2.
"I think this is the second time we've beaten them in the four years I've been here," Snep, a four-year varsity player, said after going 2-for-4 with a double and 3 RBI. "I know we got swept my freshman and sophomore years. Last year, we stole Game 3 (in the season series). To come out here today and beat them is awesome."
Combined, Minnesota-commit DeLuga and his Iowa-bound batterymate Snep threw out four runners on the bases. That equaled the amount of hits DeLuga yielded in his 103-pitch, 8-strikeout performance. DeLuga, a 6-foot junior left-hander, picked runners off first base and second base, while Snep twice nailed runners trying to steal second.
"He's one of the best," DeLuga said of his catcher. "He's caught me since my sophomore year. Last year, a lot. This year, every game. If a guy's running, he's got him. It's almost a guarantee."
The 2 pickoffs and 2 caught-stealings all came in the first four innings, while the Lake Zurich offense put up 2 unearned runs in the second off Valparaiso-bound righty Jacob Rosenkranz and solo tallies in the third and fourth.
"He's got a good pickoff move," Stevenson coach Nick Skala said of DeLuga. "We practiced it on Sunday, and we practiced it on Monday. Hats off to him. He threw a great game. We just didn't execute at some points, and that really hurt us."
"Dominant," Snep said of DeLuga's pickoff move. "Mix that with his actual pitching itself, and (opponents) can't go anywhere, can't do anything."
DeLuga's fastball has touched 90 mph. But while no radar guns were around Tuesday, his velocity, combined with his curveball and changeup, still generated plenty of swings and misses.
"Quick," Snep said of DeLuga's fastball. "And it was right in the glove. That's all we need. There was a lot of movement to (the fastball)."
Michael D'Angelo, Zach Taylor, Jake Surane and Chris Farina had Stevenson's only hit (all singles). DeLuga continually worked ahead in the count, walking just a pair.
"Especially when it's cold, it's all about hitting your spots," DeLuga said. "I felt I did that pretty well. We attacked our game plan and executed everything we needed to do."
DeLuga, who beat a quality team from Tennessee over Spring Break and a got a no-decision in a loss to Lake Forest last week, improved to 2-0.
"He's been phenomenal all year," Lake Zurich coach Rick Erickson said of his ace. "Every time he takes the ball, we have a very good shot to win."
"He's a good pitcher. We faced him last year and we know what he has," Skala said. "But our offensive approach today was lackluster, and for a big game like this against our rival it was disappointing."
Besides Snep, Lake Zurich also got a pair of hits each from Jack Pfeifer (2 doubles, RBI) and Michael Chialdikas (RBI). Jack Moses also doubled. The Bears will look for the sweep when they host Stevenson on Wednesday.
"This conference is phenomenal, so any time you can find yourself 4-1, no matter who you've played, that's good," Erickson said. "These guys are confident, they're very talented, they love the game of baseball, and they work."