ELMHURST – The opening month of the 2017 season for the York baseball team has been downright magical, filled with thrilling comebacks and close victories.
Saturday’s non-conference matchup with Downers Grove South was just the latest example, with Ryan Ross playing the role of hero.
A base hit up the middle by Ross in the bottom of the seventh drove in both Andrew Deardurff and Ian Steinorth, giving the Dukes a 2-1 walk-off victory over the Mustangs in Elmhurst.
The visitors had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the frame after a scoreless first six innings.
“He was throwing a lot of balls so I was just looking for a pitch I could hit,” said Ross, who also had a hit in the second inning. “The pitch before I kind of swung out of my shoes so I wanted to stay within myself and do a job.
“We’ve been grinding out some close games. We stay together as a team and are always staying positive. We have a lot of team chemistry going on.”
York improved to 16-2 on the spring and 11 of those victories have been by three runs or less.
“Off the top of my head, that’s probably seven or eight come from behind wins or games we were down early and came back,” York coach Dave Kalal said. “They never feel like they are out of a game. They stick to the process and believe in the mental side of things. This group is buying in and they are seeing the results of that buy-in.”
Adding to the enthusiasm is the fact that this is still a very young team.
“I really had no idea,” said Kalal, when asked if he had envisioned such a hot start. “But they are working hard and believing in each other and we’ve got kids stepping up every game. It’s just one of those years and we are trying to enjoy the ride.”
Scott Tucker started on the mound against Downers Grove South and worked into the seventh inning. Joey Chiappetta came on in relief for the final two outs and recorded the win.
Mike Pastuovic cranked out a triple and Mike Bernal had an infield single.
The Dukes sit at 8-1 in the West Suburban Silver conference after securing a series sweep over Glenbard West with a 7-4 decision on April 21. Next up is a three-game set with Oak Park followed by games with Hinsdale Central and Lyons Township.
“The next three weeks will really be tough,” Kalal said. “We will see what we are made of these next few weeks and we are all looking forward to the challenge. We are going game by game, literally game by game. But our goal is to win the conference. That’s our first goal and anything that happens after that is icing on the cake.”
IC CATHOLIC PREP
The Knights dropped two out of three games this week, falling twice to Illiana Christian before bouncing back to defeat Walther Christian 7-3 on April 19.
Paul Morris led the offense against Walther with three hits and two RBIs while Christopher West pitched six innings, striking out three.
The Trojans lost 18-11 to Aurora Central Catholic on April 20 despite three hits and six runs batted in by Jimmy Allen. Shaun Van Tholen also had three hits.