There was a brace-yourself, hide-your-eyes moment in this game.
With two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, Glenbrook South’s Cameron Pauly hit a blooper into short center field.
Hustling all the way, three Glenbrook North fielders — shortstop Chris Karasinski, second baseman Thomas Witty and center fielder Jimmy Karfis — converged on the ball.
Virtually, at the same time.
Three bodies collided and all three fell to the turf. Arms, legs and ball caps went flying in every direction.
“That play,” said GBS head coach Steve Stanicek, “always scares the heck out of me.
“Three guys going after the ball full speed. It’s a disaster waiting to happen,” he added. “Fortunately, everyone came out in good shape.”
All three Spartans landed safely … as did the baseball.
Credit Pauly with a double.
It was that kind of a day for the host Titans (5-7).
“A lot of things went our way today,” said Stanicek, following his team’s 11-2 victory over GBN on April 17. “We hit some balls hard today. And we also hit some balls not that hard — that still went for hits.”
Pauly also was grateful that no one got hurt on his gift double.
“From my angle, as I was trotting into second base, it looked pretty bad,” said the GBS senior. “I’m just happy that no one lost consciousness. That they were all okay.”
Pauly, a three-year varsity starter for the Titans, played an integral part in this win. He constantly was in the middle of the action.
In the opening frame, the 5-foot-10 left-handed hitting Pauly sliced a single to the opposite field. He eventually advanced to third and then stole home on a perfectly executed double steal attempt with teammate Brandon Matias swiping second.
“It’s been a while since I’ve done that,” noted Pauly, of his pilfering of home. “We scored a run on the play. That’s all that matters.”
Pauly, who hit No. 2 in the batting order, ended up 3-for-4 at the plate. He was credited with one of the RBIs in GBS’s three-run second inning.
“Cam does a lot of things well for us,” said Stanicek. “And we ask a lot of him.
“That was Cam Pauly at his best today,” the coach added.
Pauly’s other talent is pitching. That also came into play in Monday’s win over the Spartans (5-8).
He relieved left-handed reliever Simon Farber in the top of the sixth and immediately coaxed a 4-6-3 double play. Then, after giving up a single to GBN’s Jack Garibaldi, he closed the seventh inning with back-to-back-to-back strikeouts.
“I just went in there trying to throw strikes,” said Pauly, who sat out of his team’s first seven games of the season (school decision). “I learned from my older brothers [Kyle and Connor] to get ahead of hitters. So if you fall behind 1-0, the batter is winning [the at-bat]. I hate walking hitters. I like to make ’em earn it.”
Pauly, a right-hander, figures to be even more effective on the mound this spring. He’s made a not-so-subtle change. Formerly an exclusively over-the-top hurler, he’s now dropping down and pitching — at least, for the most part — from the side-arm slot.
“In open gym this winter, our pitching coach [Travis Myers] worked with me on it,” said Pauly. “Coach Myers was a side-arm pitcher in high school [and college].”
It’s turned out to be natural delivery for Pauly. Especially when he grips his slider and fastball.
But the cagey veteran also has a little something up his sleeve. He — still — delivers his nasty curve ball over the top.
He uses it as a sneak attack.
It keeps a hitter guessing.
“It changes a hitter’s eye trajectory,” said Pauly. “Coach Myers is good with it. He tells me, ‘Go with whatever is comfortable.’ ”
Notable: The Titans scored their 11 runs on 16 hits. In addition to Cameron Pauly, the other hitting standouts included sophomore third baseman Brandon Matias (3-for-3, 3 runs), senior first baseman Jacob Newman (2-3, 2-run single, sacrifice bunt) and senior right-fielder Joey Petroline (3-4, double, 2 RBIs). Other contributors included junior second baseman Mike Snow (1-4, 2 runs), senior catcher Connor Nash (RBI single), junior center fielder Jack Anderson (single, run) and senior left-fielder Jacob Smiley (1-3, 2 RBIs). … Senior right-hander Tommy Mahar started and picked up the win (4 IP, 2 runs, 2 hits, 4 Ks, 0 walks).
Spartans head coach Dominic Savino is not hitting the panic button.
He truly believes his 5-8 squad will turn things around.
“We’ll have guys stepping up,” said Savino, following his team’s 11-2 setback to host Glenbrook South on April 17. “We’re just not there yet. We’ve got to limit our mistakes. Some things went wrong today, and we kind of unraveled.
“We’ve got a lot of athletes on this team,” he added. “They’re great kids. Coachable kids.”
The Spartans had a decent start against GBS. Third baseman David Rubin (2-for-3) opened the top of the second inning with a line-drive single to right-center field and moved to second on a bunt single by sophomore shortstop Chris Karasinski (2-3). Both came around to score to give GBN an early 2-1 lead.
Daniel Spencer, Kevin Burnside, Jack Garabaldi and Ryan Veith also had hits in the loss.
Notable: Tommy Gertner definitely has been a bright spot for the Spartans. The senior left-hander is 3-1 with a 1.00 earned run average. He has 34 strikeouts to go along with just eight walks. One of his losses came in a 1-0 loss to state-ranked St. Rita in the season opener on March 18. … The Spartans have played a tough schedule. They fell to state-ranked Plainfield South 16-5 on April 15. And they also lost to a pair of ranked out-of-state teams in the recent Tennessee Invite.