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Overpowering pitcher deals Panthers early playoff exit

WHEATON – As head coach Rich Smelko put it, the Glenbard North baseball team ran into a buzzsaw May 24 in its playoff opener against South Elgin.

Heading into the postseason with a good deal of momentum after nonconference victories over Downers Grove North and York, the Panthers’ bats were silenced by the Storm’s Ryan Nutof in a 2-0 loss in a Wheaton North regional semifinal.

“He was one of the better pitchers we’ve faced all season,” Smelko said. “He had great stuff.

“He threw pretty hard and just overpowered us. He had our number, that’s for sure. We had two infield hits and two regular hits and couldn’t get a runner past second base.”

Matt Albin nearly matched Nutof pitch for pitch, aside from being touched up for two runs in the opening frame. The Panthers junior allowed just five hits in a complete-game effort while striking out five.

Glenbard North played without top pitcher and clean-up hitter Matt Frawley, who suffered an eye injury in the week leading up to the game.

Despite the opening-round loss, the Panthers enjoyed a solid season.

“I thought we had a really successful spring,” the coach said. “I don’t think anyone picked us to finish in the top three in conference. And with Albin, our No. 2 pitcher, and Frawley, our No. 1 pitcher, out for a combined four weeks, to still get 19 wins is very impressive.”

Heading into the campaign, the pitching staff was expected to be the strength of team and that group lived up to the billing despite injuries to their top two hurlers.

“We definitely had a couple of guys step up,” Smelko said. “Brett Consitt stepped up and Luke Greenberg, we brought him up from the sophomore team to pitch.”

Glenbard North now must say goodbye to 10 seniors, many of whom were major contributors this spring.

“They are a good group of kids,” Smelko said. “They are good character kids who worked hard. After a loss, they would clear their head and come out ready to play the next day. They liked to compete.”

Next up is a summer season in which the Panthers will play three or four games a week. Joining the fray will be members of the sophomore team that won the DVC title this year.

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