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Downers North baseball tops conference heading into series vs. state champs

Trojans battle OPRF this weekend, but conference race not topic of discussion

Mark Busch –
Downers Grove North first baseman Brandon Bazeluk waits for a pickoff attempt in the Trojans' 8-1 win over Glenbard West Friday at Legion Field in Downers Grove.
Mark Busch – Downers Grove North first baseman Brandon Bazeluk waits for a pickoff attempt in the Trojans' 8-1 win over Glenbard West Friday at Legion Field in Downers Grove.

DOWNERS GROVE – Dugout discussions can cover a range of topics, but there’s one thing Downers Grove North’s baseball team won’t be talking about.

That would be the West Suburban Silver conference race.

Even after a pair of weekend wins over Glenbard West helped the Trojans maintain their hold on first place, the conference race was the last thing on head coach Chad Isaacson’s mind.

“We only worry about our house,” Isaacson said. “We’ve got 25 kids we want to get better. My thought process has not changed in my 14 years here: Let’s face today, today and worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.”

So even though the schedule has the Trojans (14-3 overall, 10-1 WSS entering the week) hosting crosstown-rival Downers Grove South at 4:30 p.m. Thursday and traveling to Oak Park-River Forest for a key conference doublehead Saturday, Monday’s game at Glenbard West and Tuesday’s contest at Proviso East superceded the contests later in the week. Winning the conference title would be nice; but to do that, the Trojans need to continue playing well, which is foremost on their minds.

“It’s in the back of your mind, but you don’t want to think about it too much,” senior James Sheldon said. “You just let it play out as you go. You don’t want any distractions. You just want to play the way you’re supposed to play.”

North had a slip-up in a 1-0 non-conference loss to Willowbrook April 25, but bounced back with wins over West Friday and Saturday to make it seven wins in its last eight games. The winning formula hasn’t been complicated.

“The No. 1 thing is our pitchers pound the zone,” Isaacson said. “Even going back to when we lost to Willowbrook, Danny Miller threw strikes. Against Addison Trail, Matt Bohanon threw strikes and we gloved the ball behind him. We have to continue to do that.”

The Trojans played error-free baseball in Saturday’s 8-0 win over the Hilltoppers. Pitcher Mike O’Malley allowed just four hits, two of which were infield singles, and another single came with two outs in the top of the seventh. They also got timely hits and production up and down the lineup. The bottom third of the order — David Henson, Matt Zabloudil and Emil Baftirovski — combined to go 2-for-8 with a run and a pair of RBIs. All but two players had hits. North scored four runs with two outs.

Southard, O’Malley and Lucas Fisher – North’s three conference starting pitchers – have been dominant so far this spring. With solid defense and timely hitting also coming through, the Trojans are playing well with the postseason looming May 20.

“We’ve been there offensively all year but we’re getting a little stronger,” Sheldon said. “We’re getting used to seeing the pitching and everybody is getting better.”

The Trojans beat Glenbard West 8-1 in Friday’s series opener.

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