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Baseball playoff previews: St. Louis-recruit Vichio, Spears lead Rams into regionals

Red hot Willowbrook hopes for another playoff run

Glenbard East first baseman D.J. Spears takes a throw that just beats the runner April 22 at Wheaton North.
Glenbard East first baseman D.J. Spears takes a throw that just beats the runner April 22 at Wheaton North.

Glenbard East

Class: 4A

Sectional seed: No. 13

Regional: Geneva

Regional opener: 4:30 p.m. Monday at Glenbard East vs. Conant

What to watch: After a first month of the season that the Rams want to forget, East has started to show progress in recent weeks.

The Rams picked up three straight DuPage Valley Conference series wins against Naperville North, West Chicago and Wheaton Warrenville South in the past few weeks. They will hope that improvement can continue into the postseason.

East will start in a regional quarterfinal against No. 20 Conant. If the Rams get past the Cougars, No. 4 St. Charles East awaits.

St. Louis-recruit Nick Vichio will make the Rams a tough out whenever he is on the mound, and D.J. Spears and Mike Hansen strung together quality starts with more regularity in recent outings.

The key will be if it all happens on the same day. East has 11 losses by three runs or fewer this spring.

Addison Trail

Class: 4A

Sectional seed: No. 14

Regional: Wheaton North

Regional opener: 4:30 p.m. Monday at Addison Trail vs. Streamwood

What to watch: The Blazers head to the postseason with momentum thanks to a series win over Morton to close out the West Suburban Gold.

By taking two out of three from the Mustangs, AT won its first Gold series since opening conference with a sweep of Proviso East. The Blazers were fifth in the Gold with a 7-11 record.

AT opens the postseason with No. 19 seed Streamwood. If the Blazers get through, they will face Wheaton North in a regional semifinal. The Falcons beat AT 14-4 in six innings on May 1, but it was a midweek game where neither team threw top pitchers.


Class: 4A

Sectional seed: No. 9

Regional: Schaumburg

Regional opener: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday vs. York

What to watch: The Warriors are one of the hottest teams in the area and hope to replicate last year’s playoff run where they made a sectional final as a No. 13 seed.

Willowbrook has won 15 of 18 since a 5-7 start, including a series win over Downers Grove South. Pitching has keyed the Warriors during the run. Willowbrook has allowed more than three runs just three time in its last 16 games.

Dave Cericola has 52 strikeouts and a 1.28 ERA in 38.1 innings to lead the way. Jake Cady also has stepped up lately and has a 1.64 ERA in 25.2 innings.

Cericola likely will see York senior ace River Pitlock, a Butler recruit, in a regional semifinal pitching match up worthy of a big stage. If Cericola and the Warriors can get past York, top sectional seed Lake Park likely awaits in the regional final at Schaumburg Boomers Stadium.


Class: 3A

Sectional seed: No. 4

Regional: Riverside Brookfield

Regional opener: 4:30 p.m. Wednesday vs. Westinghouse or North Lawndale Charter

What to watch: The Suburban Christian Conference Blue champs had a successful regular season, but are in arguably the toughest Class 3A sectional in the state.

The Broncos shouldn’t have much trouble getting through to a regional final at Brookfield’s Ehlert Park where No. 5 Riverside Brookfield would pose tough opposition. The Bulldogs won the Metro Suburban Conference and have just four losses on the season.

Bulldog junior ace Will Kincanon is getting recruited by Division I programs. Montini can counter with Ben Dobosenski, who has keyed the Broncos’ league title as a two-way standout.

Nazareth, a state qualifier the past two years in Class 3A, Glenbard South, and Benet, which shared the title in the East Suburban Catholic Conference, are the top two seeds in the deep sectional.

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