Baseball: Warwick's big day sparks Downers Grove North past Downers Grove South
Have yourself a day, Jude Warwick -- even though Mother Nature decided to be a pill.
Warwick, the leadoff hitter for Downers Grove North, had about as pristine a performance as he could on a soggy Saturday morning to lead the Trojans to a 13-3 run-rule, rivalry win over Downers Grove South.
Warwick blasted a home run to right field in his first at-bat, then added two singles and a walk. That added up to three runs scored and a pair of RBIs.
Not bad, considering off-and-on rain that got everything nice and wet, but not enough to call the game.
So what does it take to be a great leadoff hitter?
"Mentally, I think it takes resilience," Warwick said as the rain picked up behind him. "It's how you start off the game. It gets the energy going for the team and it kind of sets a base for the rest of the game."
Now add the X-factor of the crummy weather. How does that impact his work, especially at the dish? Does it impact him at all?
"Not really," Warwick said. "You just kind of have to have the mentality of just continue through the rain, keep your approach regular and don't change anything."
Warwick got the Trojans (16-4) off to a fast start with his home run in the bottom of the first inning, a laser beam over the right field wall, which led to four runs in the first. He singled in the bottom of the second, advanced on an error, then later scored on a sacrifice fly.
All that made life easy for North starter Joe Chiarelli, who threw a complete game and retired 10 in a row at one point. He gave kudos to Warwick for the pickup.
"First inning I gave up a run and two hits," Chiarelli said. "I was a little disappointed in myself, but I have a lot of faith in my guys and Jude being up top of the lineup, he gets us started and gets us going."
At the plate, Chiarelli walked twice and scored twice to help his own cause.
But across the field, Downers South (8-6) had its own version of leadoff limelight, with Jalen House, who singled to lead off the game, stole second base, then came around to score on Tony Titone's single.
House agreed with Warwick on what it takes to be effective in the leadoff slot.
"You have to watch the pitcher when he starts because his tendencies on the mound," House said. "You have to be ready for a first-pitch fastball. He threw me a first-pitch fastball, I took it because it wasn't my pitch. Then he threw me another one and I just hit it."