Baseball: Team effort sends Cary-Grove to 7th straight win
A Cary-Grove baseball team with multiple preseason question marks punctuated a 3-game sweep of Crystal Lake Central with an exclamation point in Cary Thursday.
The Trojans won 11-1 in five innings to improve to 16-4 overall, 10-2 in the Fox Valley Conference.
At least two dozen Major League scouts watched right-handed prospect Quinn Priester allow an earned run on 5 hits and no walks while striking out 7 in 5 innings.
Meanwhile, the offense generated 10 hits, 4 for extra bases, drew 2 walks and capitalized on 2 errors to score 4 unearned runs.
The Priester part of the equation was a given coming into the season. The offense was not.
Yet, Thursday's win -- Cary-Grove's seventh straight -- marked the fifth time in 12 games the Trojans scored double-digit runs. Not bad considering the lineup returned one experienced varsity bat in Priester.
The reason things have clicked so quickly, the players say, is intangible.
"We really have good team chemistry going right now," said LJ Waco, who hit his second home run of the season. "We bond together in everything we do."
Priester called the phenomenon "team-ism."
"We're really close to each other," he said. "We always have group chats, team dinners, that kind of thing. Just being behind each other -- I think that's what fuels this team. We're not overly talented. We're just a bunch of guys that gets behind every person on this team. Everyone wants to be successful for everyone else."
The Trojans backed Priester with 4 runs in the second inning and 4 in the third. Junior Jack Thompson contributed a run-scoring groundout in the second inning to make it 2-0.
Thompson hit an opposite-field double on a 2-0 count in the third inning to drive in Waco and Bobby Jannusch for a 7-0 lead.
"I had two strikes so I was just trying to stay in the count," Thompson said. "He gave me a pitch I could kind of handle. I just tried to put it down the right-field line."
The Trojans ended it with a 2-run fifth inning. Dimitri Kanellakis had a run-scoring single and Drew Stengren's game-ending sacrifice fly invoked the 10-run rule.
First-year Cary-Grove coach Ryan Passaglia said his surging team has been a joy to coach, largely, because of the unique brotherhood the players detailed.
"I knew we were young and I knew we had some talent, but sometimes that takes a little while to jell and come to fruition," Passaglia said. "They embraced each other right away. They are a tight-knit group. I love coming to games and practices with these guys because they show up every day. They're out here to work and they're here for each other. They're a very selfless team. Teams like that can go a long way. I'm very grateful for these guys that I have the ability to coach them. I'm enjoying this year. I really am."