Baseball: Stair pitches Kaneland over Marmion
Kaneland junior Bryce Stair twirled a gem against Marmion with his healed finger Tuesday.
Normally used in relief when he pitches, the 6-foot-1 junior had not taken the mound in a month due to a lingering finger issue, though he continued to play middle infield.
Making his first start of the season against the Cadets -- a team with victories over state powers Marist and St. Laurence to its credit -- Stair threw an 87-pitch 4-hitter. He struck out the last batter he faced to complete a 5-2 nonconference win in Maple Park.
"I felt good," the right-hander said. "I just wanted to get out there and have fun. I knew my defense would make plays."
Stair punched out five Cadets to help Kaneland improve to 23-9. It was a performance coach Brian Aversa will remember when making postseason pitching decisions.
"We needed to see what he could do for us, especially come playoff time," Aversa said. "Boy, he went out and exceeded our expectations and did a great job. He kept his pitch count down and was around the strike zone all night. That makes it easy on a defense."
Marmion, which plays one of the toughest schedules in the state, slipped to 8-14 despite a strong performance from freshman pitcher Jack Zebig, who was called up last week.
Zebig did not receive the same defensive support as Stair. The home score book said Marmion committed a couple of errors, but coach Frank Champman said the Cadets should have been tagged with five.
"We kicked the ball around," he said. "We equate every freebie to being a run. So there you go, five runs."
Zebig used a slow-breaking curveball to hold the Knights to 5 runs (3 earned) in 4 innings. He struck out a pair.
"He did a good job," Chapman said. "He was using off speed and getting his groundballs. We just have to pick it. That's what it comes down to."
Stair broke a scoreless, second-inning tie with a run-scoring single. Nick Ortegel made it 2-0 two batters later with a two-out single to center field.
Marmion halved the lead with a third-inning sacrifice fly, but Dalton Askew restored the 2-run cushion with an infield single.
The Knights added a pair of fourth-inning insurance runs, keyed by Mikey Rogers' line-drive single that scored Ortegel.
"He hung a curveball so I knew I could take it the opposite field," Rogers said after a 2-for-4 performance. "It just worked out it was right down the line and he was able to score."
Ortegel and Angel Acevedo each had 2 hits for Kaneland.
Tony Mele was responsible for 2 of Marmion's 4 hits.