ELMHURST — Since Oak Park-River Forest and Lyons Township met in the Class 4A baseball state title game last year, it’s easy to forget that York won the West Suburban Silver crown last season.
The Dukes still have some horses, but not as much experience. Retaining the conference title won’t be easy.
“It’s going to be something because LT is better than they were last year, which is hard to believe,” said coach Dave Kalal. “Hinsdale Central has got three solid arms. Glenbard West was super young last year and now they’re more experienced. Downers North is going to give you heck every time out. Our conference again this year is not going to be easy, but that’s the way you want it. You want to play a meaningful game every single time out so that’s what we’re looking forward to.”
If York is in the running in the Silver again, the Dukes will need a strong season from ace River Pitlock. Pitlock started the season opener, a 4-2 home win over Benet on Wednesday, and went four innings while giving up one run.
Pitlock, a three-year varsity player and Butler recruit, will bat in the middle of the order and also play shortstop.
“He’s our leader,” Kalal said. “This is his sixth season up on the varsity team with us including summer ball. He’s a kid that the other kids look to. He likes the big stage. He likes the spotlight.”
No. 2 pitcher Louis Alcaraz locked up the win on Wednesday with three innings of one-run ball against the Redwings. Both Pitlock and Alcaraz had ERAs under two as juniors.
Anthony Santos will factor into the pitching staff and in the middle of the lineup while playing first base. Santos, a junior, gained some experience last spring.
Senior outfielder Josh Paparone and designated hitter Seth Dvorak bring speed at the top of the order.
On the defensive side, catcher Pete Doughty is committed to play for Oakton Community College in Des Plaines.
Meet the Dukes
Coach: Dave Kalal
2012 record: 22-14 (12-4 West Suburban Silver)
Louis Alcaraz sr. P
Josh Paparone sr. LF
River Pitlock sr. P/SS
Anthony Santos jr. 1B/P
Next game: 10 a.m. Saturday at home vs. Downers Grove North
28.1: Innings pitched by York ace River Pitlock last season while battling injury