Sat May 5, 2012
By Sean Duncan
FRANKFORT, IL – The secret to No. 13 Lincoln-Way North’s success isn’t its steady defense, its consistent pitching staff, nor is it the team’s productive lineup. No, at the heart of Lincoln-Way North’s success is something much more rudimentary than that, according to junior catcher Ryan Pellack.
“We all just like each other,” said Pellack. “We’ve been playing together since we were like 8 years old. We all have fun together.”
Lincoln-Way North certainly had fun Friday, as the Phoenix dispatched district rival Lincoln-Way East 10-0 in six innings. The lopsided nonconference win improved the Phoenix’s record to 23-5.
North scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth to break open a 4-0 advantage and employ the mercy rule. The offense was more than enough for junior right-hander Jake McCabe (6-1), a Marian Catholic transfer who yielded four hits while striking out three in his six-inning complete game. McCabe pounded the strike zone with his 81-83 mph fastball with some arm-side sink, and located his 67-68 mph curveball well. He worked fast, pitched to contact and relied on the Phoenix’s rock-solid defense to take care of the rest.
“I just want to throw strikes,” said McCabe, who rolled nine groundball outs. “I have one of the best defenses in the state behind me, so it makes it easy to pitch to contact.”
The Phoenix led 1-0 after 3 innings before they scored three times in the fourth behind five hits, including four straight. Junior shortstop Josh Handzik (2-for-2, 2 runs, RBI) capped the scoring with a run-scoring double.
North finished the game off in the sixth after East muffed to tailor-made double play. Senior third baseman Jack Troike ended the game with a two-run double to left field. Troike, an Illinois Wesleyan recruit, finished 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run. Junior first baseman Reed Hero went 2-for-3 with two runs, and Pellack added two hits and an RBI.
“We’ve been productive all through the lineup,” said North coach Joe Skarbek, whose team won the IHSBCA summer state championship last July. “Guys just move guys around and have produced up and down the lineup.”