Baseball: Carmel's Gandolfi spreads the praise for his 600th win

  • Stevenson's Jordan Skolmar (right) celebrates with teammate Joey Little after Skolmar's 3-run home run in the first inning against Libertyville on Friday. Stevenson won the game 11-6 to move to 8-4-1 overall and 3-3 in North Suburban Conference play. Libertyville fell to 10-6, 5-2.

      Stevenson's Jordan Skolmar (right) celebrates with teammate Joey Little after Skolmar's 3-run home run in the first inning against Libertyville on Friday. Stevenson won the game 11-6 to move to 8-4-1 overall and 3-3 in North Suburban Conference play. Libertyville fell to 10-6, 5-2. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson's J.R. Nelson eyes the ball on a hit by Libertyville's Brendan Max at Libertyville on Friday.

      Stevenson's J.R. Nelson eyes the ball on a hit by Libertyville's Brendan Max at Libertyville on Friday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Stevenson pitcher Ethan Ge delivers the heat against Libertyville in varsity baseball at Libertyville High School on Friday.

      Stevenson pitcher Ethan Ge delivers the heat against Libertyville in varsity baseball at Libertyville High School on Friday. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Mark Welsh/mwelsh@dailyherald.comLibertyville's pitcher Jack Bjorkland delivers against Stevenson in the varsity baseball matchup at Libertyville High School on Friday.

    Mark Welsh/mwelsh@dailyherald.comLibertyville's pitcher Jack Bjorkland delivers against Stevenson in the varsity baseball matchup at Libertyville High School on Friday.

 
 
Updated 5/7/2021 8:34 PM

Ever the jokester, Carmel baseball coach Chuck Gandolfi had a quick answer to being asked what his 600th win meant to him.

Gandolfi earned it earlier this week, when the Corsairs defeated St. Patrick, 12-2.

 

"It means I'm getting old," Gandolfi laughed.

"Actually, it means a lot about the people I've coached with and the players I've coached over the years," Gandolfi continued. "We're a demanding program. And we've had players who have bought into what we are doing."

Gandolfi, in his second stint at Carmel, has coached for 22 years at the Catholic school in Mundelein. He also had a season at Lake Zurich.

He cites the importance of two assistant coaches that have been with him for most of his 23-year career as a head coach: Bill Taylor and Greg Krebs.

"Those guys have not only been great coaches for me, they've been great friends," Gandolfi said. "It's meant a lot having them coach with me for the majority of it."

Gandolfi, who is retired from teaching, is excited to be back at Carmel. He left there in 2009 and was rehired for the 2020 season, which didn't get played due to the COVID-19 shutdowns.

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"I just enjoy coaching, and it's like, 'What else am I going to do,' " Gandolfi laughed. "I'm young enough that I still have a lot of excitement for the game and I feel like we can make a good run at it before I would want to step down."

Gandolfi already has plans for when that happens.

He's got a 2-year-old grandson Anthony who loves baseball.

"He loves saying 'baseball field,' " Gandolfi said with a laugh. "When I walk away for the last time, maybe it will be because I'll want to watch my grandson's games."

Senior leadership:

With two sophomores (Ryan Garghaty and Adam Galdoni) and a handful of inexperienced juniors in the starting lineup, Carmel is a bit green.

But three seniors are providing some solid leadership for the Corsairs.

Shortstop Derek Galdoni, center fielder Tyler Anderson and catcher Andrew Cutting are off to good starts.

"Those three seniors are really leading the team," Carmel coach Chuck Gandolfi said. "They are giving us the stabilization we need with such a young team."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Ouch! That hurts:

Injuries have plagued the start of the Warren baseball season, so much so that the Blue Devils had just nine varsity players available for a game this week.

Somehow, Warren had limped to a 9-4 record as of Wednesday in spite of the loss of three starters.

And just this week, the Blue Devils got word that six starters will need to quarantine for the next 14 days.

"It's been rough," Warren coach Clint Smothers said. "We've lost our top three pitchers to injuries. We're just doing everything we can possibly do to keep going."

Michael Rivera, expected to be Warren's No. 1 pitcher this season, is out for the season with a nerve problem in his elbow. He threw five innings in a game recently but decided he could go no more.

He is supposed to play at Heartland next year.

Meanwhile, sophomore Adam Behrens, one of the quarterbacks for the football team, got hurt in a game recently against Stevenson when he was running for second base and pulled his hip flexor.

Behrens was pitching at the time and pitched three more innings until he had to leave the game.

"He gave us everything he could until we had to take him out," Smothers said. "He's a tough kid. He's out for now, but we're thinking he'll be back after some rehab."

Finally, Brian Rapanan, a pitcher, catcher and shortstop, has been nursing a back injury for the last three weeks. He's hoping to be back in the lineup soon.

"It's been tough for (Rapanan) to be out this long," Smothers said. "He does so much for us. Shortstop, and he closes games for us.

"Now, we've got more guys out with the quarantine. I mean, you can't make this stuff up. It's kind of a season where you just say, 'It is what it is.'"

Search for No. 1:

With so many injuries at pitcher, Warren has had to adjust its lineup on the mound.

Junior Kendall Lyons, a UIC recruit, has emerged as the team's ace.

"He's been a bulldog on the mound," Warren coach Clint Smothers said of Lyons. "He's got a ton of upside and he's throwing 88, 89. He's emerged as our No. 1, but he's also doing other things for us, playing in the field. A lot of our guys have had to do that now (with so many injuries)."

Senior Ryan Risch can also provide some pitching for Warren, even though he's a catcher by trade. He's also one of the team's top hitters, as is sophomore Albert Jaquez, a transfer from the Dominican Republic.

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