WHEATON – So this is the team Glenbard East was supposed to be.
The Rams’ baseball team slumped through the nonconference season and started 1-8 in the DuPage Valley Conference, but things are turning around. Back-to-back wins against Wheaton Warrenville South mark East’s 6-1 record in the past seven DVC games.
The turnaround began when the Rams (11-16, 7-10 DVC) beat Naperville North two games out of three and continued with another series win against West Chicago over the weekend. Mike Hansen limited the Tigers to two runs in 5 2/3 innings and also had an RBI and scored a run as East’s leadoff hitter in the 3-2 win Wednesday.
Nick Vichio was 4-for-4 with three doubles and three RBIs and Danny Ryan was 3-for-3 with three runs scored in Thursday's 9-6 series-clinching win over the Tigers.
“It’s what I knew this team was capable of and what we are capable of moving forward,” East coach Joel Pelland said. “I’m excited for what the future holds for this group. We still got some guys that are struggling, but if we can all get on the same page we’re going to be just as dangerous as any team out there.”
Pitching is what makes the Rams dangerous and has been a big reason for the turn around. St. Louis-recruit Vichio hadn’t allowed an earned run in three starts entering Thursday and picked up the win in shutouts against Naperville North and West Chicago. D.J. Spears allowed four runs in complete-game efforts against the same teams.
Not many teams will want to face pitching like that in the playoffs.
“We had a lot of guys playing basketball, so I think they might have been a little bit behind, but we’re really jelling now,” Hansen said. “I think we’re going to make a run in the playoffs hopefully. Let’s see if we can keep the momentum going and push into the playoffs.”
Hansen, Greg Ludwig, Tyler Behrendt and Danny Ryan are four regular starters for East that played on the Rams’ regional-winning basketball team that played until March 6.
Whatever the reason for the slow start, the senior-heavy Rams are putting it together.
“We got a lot of seniors that feed off of each other,” Pelland said. “Right now, they’re starting to play better together. They’re starting to accept their roles and do what they need to do for the team, and that’s what’s most important.”