Safe to say, there likely aren’t a lot of driver’s licenses to be found between the very young Whitefish Bay and Homestead baseball squads this summer.
Both the Blue Dukes and Highlanders went into this season without much experience and it has showed at times in the first three weeks of the summer season.
But on a beautiful Tuesday night at Cahill Park in Bay, the Blue Dukes rode the strong arm of junior pitcher Luke Lamont and got enough clutch hitting to overpower Homestead, 6-2, avenging an earlier season defeat to the Highlanders.
“This is how our summer has been,” said Bay coach Jay Wojcinski. “We’re up and then we’re down. We’ve lost five one-run games this year, almost all of them in the seventh inning. We only have about two field players back and almost no pitching.
“But we have seven sophomores up and a freshman pitched well for us on Saturday (June 17) and they’re all trying hard. If we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot, we can be OK.”
The Blue Dukes improved to 2-6 in the North Shore and 7-8 overall while Homestead fell to 5-6 and 7-10, respectively.
Veteran Homestead coach Ernie Millard echoed Wojcinski’s sentiments on the inconsistency of his own team.
“We have almost no one starting in the same position as they did last year,” he said. “Cole (Destefanis) played third last season but he’s now at second. He is having a really good year for us.
“But overall, we’re just up and down. The kids are playing hard. It’s not for lack of effort, but we just can’t find a way to be consistent.”
That was the case for the Highlanders this evening, as they bolted out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first after on a two-run double by Brian DeVorkin. It would be the first and last time they would scratch Lamont this evening.
But the advantage would not last long
Bay got the lead back for Lamont in the bottom of the first as infield errors put two Blue Dukes on against Homestead senior Joe Panella. After a fielder’s choice, senior Gunnar Stock ripped an RBI single and sophomore Owen Jonas followed that with an RBI double.
Another sophomore, Nathan Ebersole, put Bay up for good with a sacrifice fly to right.
Lamont put two runners on in the second, but veteran junior shortstop Cade Garcia started an efficiently turned 6-4-3 doubleplay to end the inning. An error and two walks loaded the bases for the Highlanders with two out in the third, but a groundout to Garcia again ended the threat.
Panella (six strikeouts) would pitch effectively through four, but Bay touched him for two insurance runs in the fifth as an error, a wild pitch, two stolen bases and a sacrifice fly by junior Carson Kimple helped make it 5-2.
Bay junior centerfielder Alex Anthony played a huge role in helping the Blue Dukes hold that lead as he made tough catches in both the fifth and sixth innings and also contributed an RBI single in the sixth.
Garcia and Anthony made quite a splash last fall as all-star quarterback and receiver, respectively, for the Bay football team. After tonight’s win, Garcia just shook his head and laughed when talking about his gridiron go-to guy.
“His hands are just really good,” he said.
Lamont finished with three strikeouts and five walks in 5-2/3 innings. Ebersole came in in relief and put down all four batters he faced in the sixth and seventh.
“You make mistakes, they will catch up with you,” said Millard. “we’re just making too many mistakes right now.”
Meanwhile, Wojcinski would like to see the Blue Dukes build off this good effort.
“Luke (Lamont) had a pretty good game tonight,” said Wojcinski. “I think he really battled. We did some nice things tonight, but we’re still a work in progress. Two steps forward, one step back. Right now, the key for us to keep stepping forward.”