Pitchers Pall, Leland, Dietz all excelling for Sandburg
A poker player holding three aces is apt to drive the stakes higher, so confident is he of winning the pot.
A baseball coach with three aces on his staff finds himself in a similarly favorable circumstance. He, too, knows he possesses a winning hand far more often than not, and in the coach’s case there’s not even any real gamble involved.
Such is the situation enjoyed by Sandburg boss Jim Morsovillo these days. While his Eagles aren’t perfect in 2014, they’re in awfully good shape, thanks to the presence of pitchers Bryan Pall, Sean Leland and Matthias Dietz.
All three hurlers have been early season standouts whose statistics almost defy description. Only Dietz has an earned-run average as high as 1.00, and he has a 7-to-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio over 28 innings. One of his wins this spring was a no-hitter over Oak Lawn.
The University of Michigan-bound Pall and Louisville University-bound Leland have been just as instrumental in getting Sandburg off to a 9-4 start. Each pitcher’s innings total exceeds the number of hits he has given up thus far and both sport ERAs below one. Pall has fanned 30 batters and walked only three in 17 innings of work.
“Pitching-wise, this is the best overall staff we’ve had in about 10 years — and maybe ever,” Eagles assistant coach Chuck Peters said. “We have three horses who can go seven innings. Each one of them consistently throws 87 or 88 miles an hour and they pound the strike zone.
“Our pitching staff is legit. Their numbers are kind of ridiculous and, to be quite honest, it’s fun to watch.”
Peters, Morsovillo and assistant coach George Fear aren’t the only ones watching, either. Seeing pro scouts in attendance at games has become commonplace.
Peters counted 15 radar guns at Friday’s clash versus Lemont, “the most I’ve ever seen at a Sandburg game,” he said.
“I’m not exaggerating,” Peters said. “I got there two hours before the game, and I saw [representatives from] the Mariners, Red Sox, White Sox and a couple others. I took a picture on my phone.”
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Dietz did his part to attract some attention as he limited the Indians to two hits while whiffing nine. That performance was a continuation of what Dietz had provided the Eagles before — in addition to his aforementioned no-hitter, he includes among his previous displays a three-hit, 10-strikeout showing opposite Minooka, which fell to a 1-0 defeat.
“He’s more of a hidden gem [than Pall and Leland], but he’s throwing 90 miles an hour,” Peters said of Dietz.
There was only one problem against the Indians: Dietz’s mound counterpart, Jake Latz, was even better.
While Sandburg scratched out twice as many hits as Lemont, it also struck out five more times. And unlike the Indians, the Eagles were never able to break through on the scoreboard. Lemont did so in the fourth inning on a bloop single, which followed a hit batsman and two stolen bases.
“Three of our losses [have come about] because we made mistakes,” Peters said. “I just hope the one time [our pitchers] don’t have their best stuff, our bats will pick them up — I think they will. I think we’ll be all right once our juniors get a little more seasoning.”
The Vikings are usually a formidable foe within the SouthWest Suburban Conference Blue, but not this year. Last week’s two outcomes, though, were less a reflection of any Homewood-Flossmoor shortcomings than they were of Eagles excellence.
Pall, in particular, shone on Thursday as he threw a no-hitter through 6 2/3 innings. The Vikings broke that up with a couple of safeties in the seventh, but they were never in the hunt, due primarily to their own 14 strikeouts and Sandburg’s 12-hit offense.
“He’s the real deal,” Peters said of Pall. “There’s at least four or five pro scouts at every game he pitches.
“You have good pitchers all over the area, and when they’re on, you’re going to be in trouble [at the plate]. He was on — his slider was like 85 miles an hour.”
The Eagles (9-4, 2-0) constructed a 2-0 edge in the second frame and then extended it to 4-0 one inning later. Ben Gresla’s two-RBI double was responsible for boosting Sandburg’s margin.
“The way Bryan was pitching, you knew that was going to be enough,” Peters said of the lead.
Gresla finished the day with two hits, as did Dan Santiago and Jim Landgraf. Julian Gutierrez led the way for the Eagles with three hits, including a double, and three RBI.
Gutierrez also swung a potent bat for Sandburg last Wednesday, when it downed the Vikings in a road contest on the strength of Leland’s pitching effort and a six-run fifth inning. Gutierrez included among his pair of hits a three-run homer that fueled that late uprising.
Playing a key role as well was Chris Stearns, who homered in the sixth inning. He also doubled as part of a three-hit day and totaled three RBI.
As for Leland, he set seven H-F batters down on third strikes over six innings and surrendered only four hits. Wednesday’s outing was one of the first for Leland this spring where he hasn’t had to deal with less-than-desirable weather conditions.
“He hasn’t exactly been having the best of luck [in that regard],” Peters said. “He’s been pitching on days when the temperature doesn’t get out of the 30s.”
A matchup with Lincoln-Way North this past Monday kicked off Sandburg’s current week of action.
Sandburg 2B: Stearns. HR: Gutierrez, Stearns. RBI: Gutierrez 3, Stearns 3. WP: Leland.
Sandburg 2B: Gresla, Gutierrez. RBI: Gutierrez 3, Gresla 2. WP: Pall.
Sandburg 000 000 0 — 0
Lemont 000 100 x — 1
Sandburg LP: Dietz.