DeKALB – Sycamore baseball coach Jason Cavanaugh preaches competitive at-bats. Waiting for the right pitch and doing something with it.
For Spartans senior first baseman Cooper Vinz, that’s a fastball on the inside corner.
With the bases loaded and nobody out in the first inning of Thursday’s game against DeKalb at Northern Illinois’ Ralph McKinzie Field, Vinz got his pitch – a 3-2 inside fastball from Barbs starter John Crosby, and sent it over the left field fence for a grand slam.
The next hitter, Brett Weaver, would hit a pitch out to left field for back-to-back home runs, and Sycamore’s five-run first inning propelled the Spartans to a 7-5 victory.
Vinz’s blast was his third of the season.
“[Crosby]’s always a good pitcher, I know him, so I was kind of expecting maybe an offspeed pitch but then I saw it out of his hand,” Vinz said. “I figured I had to do what I needed to do.”
Just as in Wednesday’s loss to Sycamore (8-1, 2-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 East), a Barbs (5-3, 0-2 NI Big 12 East) pitcher struggled with control in the first inning.
Crosby walked Alec Kozak and Michael Swanberg to start the first and hit Nate Haacker with a pitch, which set up the Vinz homer. Crosby would walk seven hitters in two-plus innings of work.
Austin Hop replaced him and threw four innings without giving up a run.
“Mechanically, sometimes John has a tendency to, his arm will fall behind his body a little bit,” DeKalb coach Jake Howells said. “When that happens he’ll leave it up. Just probably wasn’t finishing pitches like he has.”
The Spartans would score two runs in the third, both charged to Crosby, while the Barbs would fire back with five in the fourth against Spartans starter Colan Treml to get within two.
But the Barbs would leave three men on base during the final three innings.
“It’s a mistake that our guys make. Sycamore kids have always done this, they always feel like the game’s over. ‘Oh, it’s 7-0, the game’s over.’ And it’s not over,” Cavanaugh said. “There are guys up and down [DeKalb’s] lineup that can swing the bat over there. I keep saying, it’s not automatic. They’re not going to roll over for you today.
“They’re not going to do it. They’re not going to roll over for us tomorrow.”
Treml threw Sycamore’s second straight complete game, giving up three earned runs on five hits. He struck out seven and walked two to improve to 1-1.
Vinz was 2 for 2 at the plate for Sycamore, while Alex Swedberg finished 3 for 3 with an RBI. Noah Baert finished 1 for 3 with a two RBIs for the Barbs, while Dylan Farrell went 2 for 3.
The teams will have their series finale at 1 p.m. this afternoon at Sycamore Park.