Illinois Math & Science Academy’s baseball team played a road game in their own backyard on Friday as they took on Aurora Central Catholic in a non-conference match-up.
With the IMSA dormitories looming beyond the left field fence, Aurora Central defeated the Titans 11-1 in six innings on the strength of a seven-run first inning outburst.
The Chargers got RBI doubles from Jake McCarthy and Mike Fidler and an RBI single from Matt Musuras as they busted out to an early lead. Mike O’Donnell drove in a run on a ground-out and Phil Schuetz and Musuras scored on passed balls to round out the first inning scoring.
It was a change-of-pace for the Chargers, who have had trouble getting things going in the early innings this season.
“That first inning was huge for us. The first couple innings this year have usually been very slow,” said Aurora Central coach Eric Fulara. “We usually fall behind, so it was really nice to see our boys out ahead early.”
O’Donnell, normally a reliever, started and threw a complete game for Aurora Central (6-8) The right-handed junior gave up one run and four hits while striking out eight over six innings.
“I put the ball where it needed to go and got outs. I threw strikes, made them hit it and my fielders did well,” said O’Donnell, who also registered two hits and an RBI at the plate.
Chargers catcher Sean Soris, one of three regular starters in Friday’s lineup, broke out of a slump with three hits.
“I was just trying to change things up a bit,” said Soris. “I just wanted to make contact and make them make the plays. They fell for me today, they weren’t the best hits, but they fell.”
Back-to-back RBI hits by Ryan Baker and Andrew Bruss in the sixth inning gave the Chargers an 11-1 lead to end the game.
IMSA (1-8) got its only run in the sixth inning when Sam Kaufman drove in Jon Henricks with a single to center field.
Henricks went 2-for-3 at the plate with a double and a triple, and struck out five while giving up no earned runs in three innings of relief.
IMSA coach Bill Bueschen said the Titans, who made four errors in Friday’s loss, need to work on the basics.
“I talk a lot about fundamentals and I talk about making simple routine plays,” said Bueschen. “We just didn’t do that today and all this week.”
Fulara hopes the his Chargers will draw some confidence out of their victory over IMSA.
“These guys have to be confident in themselves,” said Fulara. “I’m one hundred billion percent confident in these guys, I just need them to be confident in themselves. That’s the biggest problem for us.”
I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.