On a cold, blustery day with the wind blowing out straight to right, Plainfield North junior Kyle Strepek wasn’t just able to neutralize dangerous lefties and confuse righties, he flat out dominated in a 3-2 win on the road over the Morris Redskins.
Yet, despite striking out 15 times and only mustering two hits, the Redskins managed to hang around thanks in large part to a gritty performance from junior starter Cody Niewinski.
“Extremely proud with how [Niewinski] pitched,” Morris head coach Todd Kein said. “As the game went on, it seemed like he got a lot more comfortable out there – found his rhythm, found his groove.”
After getting touched up with a pair of hits that eventually turned into a pair of Plainfield North runs in the top of the first, Niewinski settled in and eventually finished out a complete game, giving up three runs and scattering nine hits. Most importantly, he kept the Redskins in the game.
“I was actually pretty happy [with the way I pitched], especially after getting hit in the hand in the first inning and then coming back and pitching and throwing some strikes,” Niewinski said.
Morris responded after falling behind, 2-0, through one with a pair of runs of their own to tie the game in the bottom of the second. Tim Smyk started off the inning by getting hit with a pitch. He’d eventually score Morris’ first run on an RBI groundout by junior Tom Cheshareck.Senior Grant Schluntz would score on a wild pitch to make it, 2-2. From there, both Niewinski and Strepek settled in. The two juniors matched zeroes in their next two trips to the bump before the Tigers were finally able to push across what would be the winning run on an RBI single by Strepek in the top of the fifth.
From there, Strepek went on to strike out six straight batters to finish out the fifth and sixth innings.
Morris would threaten in their final at-bat, with Schluntz getting hit by a pitch and advancing into scoring position with one out, but Strepek stopped the Redskin advances to preserve the 3-2 win.
“Unfortunately, I felt like some of our more experienced hitters showed some inexperience today,” Kein said in summing up his team’s loss. “Against a lefty like that on a cold day, you really have to sit back and see the ball longer and make a conscious effort to stay closed and drive the ball to the right side. Very simply, we did not do that today.”
Morris fell to 3-4 with the loss. Plainfield North improved to 4-1.