HINSDALE — It took less than three hours Wednesday afternoon for Hinsdale Central’s baseball team to get right in the thick of the West Suburban Silver race.
In that span, the Red Devils won two games against conference-favorite Oak Park-River Forest to shake up the WSS standings. They defeated the defending state champion Huskies 4-3 in a game that was resumed from April 15, then turned around and won 4-2.
“I feel like the whole team kind of got off to a slow start,” said senior pitcher Christian Bokich, who earned the win in Game 2. “Now, I feel like we’re about to take off.”
They might already have taken off. At one point sitting at 4-4, the Red Devils have won five in a row and now sit at 6-3 in the WSS. They took two games from district-rival Hinsdale South, winning 2-1 games Saturday and Monday against the Hornets before taking the two games Wednesday.
An early April loss to Glenbard West was the low point for Central and prompted head coach Tom Dorrance to say his team needed to go back to the drawing board. Even though the next game was a 13-9 loss to OPRF in the first game of the series, Dorrance saw improvement.
“We lost, but I was happy with our approach, our focus and our intensity,” he said. “We were down 7-0 in that game and came back to tie it 7-7, so we battled.”
Since that game, the Red Devils have not lost. They are playing better in all facets of the game, but the biggest difference is that starting pitchers Bokich, Bobby Skogsbergh, Adam Dressler and Austin Butler are throwing like the aces Dorrance believed they could be.
“We’ve gotten outstanding pitching, and that wins more games than good coaching,” Dorrance said.
After struggling in his early starts, Bokich revamped his approach, and it has paid immediate dividends. He surrendered just four hits and two runs over five-2/3 innings in the second game Wednesday.
“Before I was a max effort pitcher, but now my head is more still,” he said. “I feel like I’m back to my original motion from last fall.”
Pitching hasn’t been the only thing to carry Central lately. Stellar defense and timely hitting have been prevalent, as they were Wednesday afternoon.
Justice Camalick led off the bottom of the third with a double to deep center field, went to third on Chris Botsoe’s groundout and trotted home on Joe Herr’s single. Adam Dressler singled with two outs, Herr and Dressler moved up on a wild pitch and both came home on a throwing error on Ryan Haff’s grounder to short as the Red Devils grabbed a 3-0 lead.
OPRF got a run back with a leadoff solo home run in the top of the fourth and cut it to 3-2 with a two-out rally in the sixth, but an error leading off Central’s half of the sixth allowed Max Peters to reach safely. Later in the inning, Tyler Ward’s one-out single brought courtesy runner Jared Eck home from second with an insurance run.
The two Huskie errors led to three unearned runs for the Red Devils. The two wins over OPRF signaled they are right where they want to be.
“This was a playoff-like atmosphere,” Dorrance said of the tight games. “Hinsdale South and Oak Park are outstanding teams, so to win four in a row against them is great.”
After falling in a pair of 2-1 games to district-rival Hinsdale Central, the Hornets rebounded with a 5-1 win over Glenbard West in a West Suburban Conference crossover game Wednesday.
Mike Marrera earned the win Wednesday as South improved to 11-5 on the season. The Hornets will host Shepard at 4:30 p.m. Friday before travelling to Morton for a West Suburban Gold doubleheader at 10 a.m. Saturday.