Baseball: Grayslake Central homers its way past Richmond-Burton

Richmond-Burton had everything going its way through the first two innings.

The Rockets had rapped out 5 hits, including Griffin Taylor's 2-run home run, and ace pitcher Joey Mrowiec had faced the minimum number of batters.

R-B realized it probably was not going to remain that smooth against one of the state's best Class 3A baseball programs.

The Rams started playing long ball on Nate Mieszkowski's 3-run shot in the third and added 3 more homers after that on their way to a 15-5, five-inning nonconference victory Saturday at Tom Miller Field in Richmond.

Brendan Whalen and Charlie Marisca each blasted a grand slam in the 11-run fifth inning for Central (12-2). Whalen had a chance for a second grand slam that inning, but struck out with the bases loaded for the third out.

The 25-mph wind gusts affected pitches to the plate and anything hit in the air.

"(The wind) takes the miles per hour down at least 3. And if you leave anything up, it'll get demolished like it did," Mrowiec said. "I got a little bit tired out there, having trouble gripping the ball and left two pitches up. Just got destroyed there."

R-B coach Mike Giese hopes the Rockets (9-1) can use their first setback as a learning experience.

"We've been playing very well, we've been hitting the ball really well and playing good defense," Giese said. "Today we got rattled a little bit. What hurt us was walks followed by home runs. We have to learn how to regroup ourselves a little better and not walk those players, so when it's a big hit it's not a four-run hit, but a one-run hit."

Rams coach Troy Whalen thought Mieszkowski's blast, with one out and following a pair of walks, changed the game.

"Nate's our best player. He's our leadoff hitter for a reason, we want him to get as many at-bats in the game as we can," Troy Whalen said. "We needed that. Mike (Giese) has a great team here."

Brendan Whalen hit a solo homer in the fourth inning, but Mrowiec left with a 5-4 lead going into the fifth. The Rams jumped on relievers Kaden Neuman and Brock Wood to grab a big lead.

Central scored 3 runs before Whalen hit his grand slam in the fifth. Seven batters later, with two outs, Marisca ripped his.

"I saw a new pitcher (Wood) coming in and I took the first two to see what he had and the third one was basically the same pitch," Brendan Whalen said. "I hit a line drive and today (with the wind) I was lucky enough to hit a grand slam.

"Today, you can throw multiple pitches and the ball's going to move more (with the wind), which is an advantage for the pitchers, but if a hitter gets a good swing on one, they're really going to send one."

R-B got off to a good start when Whalen hit Neuman and Taylor with pitches and Hayden Christiansen singled Neuman in. In the second, Connor Wallace singled, Mrowiec doubled, Neuman singled both of them in and Taylor blasted a two-run homer for a 5-0 lead.

"Today, we had issues with rolling with the punches," Christiansen said. "Guys got their heads down. We're a good team. We can go out and win a lot of baseball games."

R-B threatened to score in the fourth when Jason Miller led off with a double, but Brendan Whalen got Wallace on a liner back to the mound and turned a double play.

"They looked like they might bounce back in the fourth and we get that double play," Troy Whalen said. "Then, all of a sudden ... This is probably one of the better hitting teams we've had here. They like to swing it.

"I told the kids, whether you play in college, or play old-man baseball or softball, you text me when your team hits two grand slams in the same inning. It's a good win for us."

Grayslake Central's Nate Mieszkowski is tagged out in a steal attempt at second base by Richmond-Burton shortstop Connor Wallace during their baseball game on Saturday, May 1, 2021at Richmond-Burton High School in Richmond. Matthew Apgar/
Grayslake Central pitcher Brendan Whalen hurls the ball to a Richmond-Burton batter during their baseball game on Saturday, May 1, 2021at Richmond-Burton High School in Richmond. Matthew Apgar/
Grayslake Central's Nate Mieszkowski, right, is congratulated by teammates after hitting a home run against Richmond-Burton during their baseball game on Saturday, May 1, 2021at Richmond-Burton High School in Richmond. Matthew Apgar/
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