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Baseball preview: Wheaton Warrenville South eager to erase 2012 memories

WHEATON — Last spring, Wheaton Warrenville South baseball was rolling along to a successful season before a nine-game losing streak to end the year spoiled things.

In their return to the field in 2013, the Tigers will look to a deep pitching staff to help turn things back around in a positive direction.

“We took a big turn at the end,” said Wheaton Warrenville South coach Tim Brylka. “We are trying to erase that from our memories.”

The team’s biggest strength should lie on the mound with three experienced pitchers back in the fold. Staff ace Baylor Holmes won four games a year ago, compiling a 2.29 ERA in 52 innings of work. Rich O’Neil threw 51 innings while Chris Amen went 5-1 in 44.1 frames.

“Baylor and Rich were pretty much our 1-2 last year so it is nice having them coming back,” the coach said. “And Chris threw a lot of innings as a reliever.

“It’s a good situation having those two guys starting off in a series. They will give us a chance to win if we can pick it up defensively.”

The team’s defense will be a major key. A year ago the Tigers allowed 65 unearned runs in 36 games.

“That’s our question mark,” Brylka said. “I think we can swing it enough and pitch enough to stay in games. If we can pick it up defensively, we will be OK.”

Offensively, the squad will be led by O’Neil, Kevin Glitz (.290 average in 2012), Matt Walsh (.272 average) and Mitch Krafcheck (.329 average).

“I’d say we have more speed,” Brylka said. “That’s fun, I think we can create a little bit.”

Wheaton Warrenville South finished sixth a year ago in the DuPage Valley Conference, finishing with an 8-13 mark. To move up this spring, the Tigers will have to beat some formidable foes.

“I think this year more than ever, it’s a pretty daunting task,” Brylka said. “There are probably four or five teams who I wouldn’t be surprised if they won the conference. Naperville Central I would say is the favorite on paper.

“For us, it’s buying in and believing we can compete with Wheaton North or Naperville Central; those teams have been at the top of our conference. To be able to beat them in a series, we have to get guys to play well and for them to buy in, that will be the key.”

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