Going into Thursday’s game against Waubonsie Valley, Benet starting pitcher Jordan Rajewski just wanted to keep his team in the game.
The right-handed junior did that and more, tossing a complete game shutout as the Redwings defeated the visiting Warriors 8-0.
“I just wanted to hold them to low runs, and set up the next guy,” said Rajewski. “I had no idea I’d go that many innings, I just wanted to keep the game close.”
Rajewski scattered seven hits and one walk over seven innings while striking out two batters. The junior was able to keep the Warriors off balance by mixing up his pitches.
“I started off throwing off-speed, and got them out in front. Then I just tried to paint the outside with fastballs,” said Rajewski. “I really had them guessing.”
Rajewski was able to work out of some first inning trouble. Waubonsie Valley had runners on second and third with just one out after Warriors catcher Tyler Josupait doubled to right field. However, Rajewski struck out Warriors third baseman James Palasz and got Warriors outfielder Zac Steele to line out to Benet second baseman Chris Stout to end the inning unscathed.
Benet coach Scott Lawler thought his pitcher’s first inning escape set the tone for the rest of the game.
“I think what really set him [Rajewski] apart was that first inning. He got out of the jam, and I think that was a big statement inning for him right there,” said Lawler.
In the second inning, the bottom of Benet’s lineup produced the Redwings’ first two runs.
No. 8 hitter Greg Arend reached base on an infield error, allowing Andrew Mogni to score the game’s first run. No. 9 hitter Billy Tumpane then drove in No. 7 hitter Joe Boyle on a sacrifice fly to center field.
Benet (4-2) pulled away with a six-run fifth inning. Stout capped off the offensive explosion with a single to right field that drove in Arend and Tumpane and put Benet up 8-0. Stout had three hits and two RBIs to lead the Redwings on offense.
“I’ve been up in big spots in a couple straight games and I haven’t really come through. I’m just getting more confident, and I’m looking to be more aggressive at the plate,” said Stout. “In the fifth, I stayed back on a first-pitch curveball and got the hit.”
Waubonsie Valley (2-2) coach Dan Fezzuoglio said his team had too many mental breakdowns on Thursday.
“We just can’t have them. They’re a good team, and credit to them for swinging the bats, but we have to do a better job from a mental standpoint to keep us in games,” said Fezzuoglio.
Lawler believes his team has taken on the right attitude this season and that it has led to early success.
“They’re hardworking kids. I think there are some high school teams out there that probably could make a few mistakes and still win. But we can’t, and the kids know that. We have to play well to win,” said Lawler.
“We’re scrappy, and I love the kids.”
I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Naperville Sun, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.