Brothers Sawyer Brown and Fletcher Brown combined to drive in 3 runs and closer Jay Moore struck out the last 2 batters he faced to preserve a sweep for Evanston’s baseball team against Niles West Thursday in a Central Suburban League South division home-and-home series.
Evanston’s 4-3 victory came with a few nervous moments in the seventh inning — an inning the Wildkits entered leading 4-0 — and boosted Coach Frank Consiglio’s squad to 12-6-1 on the season.
Evanston’s recent formula for success has consisted of just enough hitting, strong starting pitching, solid defense and shutdown efforts from the bullpen.
Consiglio himself was the only one to stray from the “formula” when he waited until the Wolves put two runners on base in the seventh against the second Kit hurler, Will Peterson, and then called on a closer who is still new to the role.
Moore entered and endured a rough patch that included a walk, a balk, his own throwing error and a single before the senior reliever regrouped and fanned Marcos Zanoni and Jack Elkin with the potential winning run at second base.
“If I had it to do over again, I’d have given Jay a ‘clean’ inning because that’s the formula that’s worked for him,” said Consiglio. “He pitched a high leverage inning on Tuesday and had to come back two days later and do it again. He didn’t have his best stuff today, but that’s what’s impressive about Jay. He can beat teams even without his best stuff and not many high school pitchers can do that.
“I thought this was one of our better hitting performances against a pitcher (West starter Sam Butera) who is really good, right at the top of the CSL. We used the big part of the field today and I took we took some steps forward on offense. We’re getting there.”
Seldom-used Sawyer Brown, getting a start at first base with Joe Epler on the mound for ETHS, drove in runs in the second and fourth innings with fly balls, and Fletcher Brown hit an RBI double in the fourth for the winners. Evanston mustered just 4 hits on the day against Butera, who struck out 9.
Sawyer Brown’s sacrifice fly in the second plated courtesy runner Tommy Barbato, subbing in after Fletcher Brown drew a full-count walk from Butera. The Wolves’ hurler then unleashed a wild pickoff throw that chased Barbato all the way to third.
Evanston rallied with one out in the fourth on back-to-back singles by Adam Geibler and Epler, and Fletcher Brown’s two-bagger to right. Sawyer Brown reached when his fly to right was dropped for an error, a blow that would have easily scored a run.
The Wildkits tacked on what turned out to be the winning run in the fifth when Geibel bounced into a bases-loaded, no-out double play.
Epler, now 4-0 on the season, pitched shutout ball for the second start in a row but had to deal with plenty of traffic on the bases before he yielded to Peterson in the sixth inning. Epler struck out 6, walked 5 and surrendered 5 hits for the Kits.
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.