The Bears two games against Libertyville on Tuesday and Wednesday couldn’t have been more different. In Tuesday’s contest in Libertyville, Bears pitcher Ben Gullo dueled the Wildcat’s Joey Eichmann as Libertyville squeezed out a narrow 2-0 victory. But in Wednesday's home game, the Wildcats routed the Bears 13-3, as the game ended after five innings because of the slaughter rule.
On Wednesday, Libertyville did what they weren’t able to do on Tuesday: score early and often, knocking in four runs off Bears starter Mike Schnur in the first inning. Joey Ruppert walked on four pitches, and advanced to third when Schnur threw wildly to first baseman Parker Asmann.
Moments later, Nick Coutre belted his second home run in two days—both shots in the first inning—to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead. After A.J. Schurr walked and then stole second, Schnur fanned Joey Eichmann and Anthony Mack before Dar Townsend punched a double deep into left-center field for another run. Catcher Jake Duguid slashed a single up the middle for the final run of the inning.
“Well, what can I say about the game today,” said coach Gary Simon. “We just didn’t play well at all. The funny thing is Mike (Schnur) had the best ERA among our pitchers before today, 1.24.”
Simon also said that the home umpire was employing two distinctly different strike zones. “Yeah, their pitcher was getting low, low strikes,” said Simon, gesturing at his ankles. “We weren’t getting the same strike zone.”
“It’s OK if everyone is getting the same zone,” said Bears assistant coach Larry Lewis, “as long as it is the same for both teams."
The Bears went quietly in their half of the first. They finally scored in the third, when Asmann’s groundout scored Zach Till from third. But the Wildcats had already added five more runs in top of the third, making the score 9-1.
Libertyville got things going against Schnur in the third when Mack lofted a bloop single over second baseman Zach Till’s head following a walk to Eichmann. After Townsend advanced the runners on a groundout, Duguid’s single drove in the first run of the inning, and a balk by Schnur was responsible for the second. The big blow of the inning was Davis Ogilvie’s two-run homer, which chased Schnur. Ed Szarkowicz relieved him, but he wasn’t much more effective, walking two and giving up a run-scoring double.
“Our pitching just wasn’t there,” said Simon. “When you give the other team five or six runs, then they can relax and play a different style of game.”
The Wildcats added two more runs in the fourth and another in the fifth, while the Bears broke through for a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth before the slaughter rule was enacted. With one out, Mitch Tuthill laid down a perfect bunt down the third base line. After a walk to Schnur, Sean Eder drove in a run when he lofted a single down the first base line. Catcher Jeremy Reusch followed with an RBI single for the final score of the game.
In Tuesday’s contest, Wildcats pitcher Joey Eichmann outdueled Gullo as Libertyville won 2-0, as Eichmann had a career-high 12 strikeouts. Coutre’s homer in the first was all the offense that his team needed.
“Ben pitched a terrific game,” said Simon. “Their pitcher was just a little better. But really, except for the homer in the first, Gullo was just terrific.”
Anthony Mack added a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the sixth inning for the other Wildcats run.
“A loss is a loss,” shrugged Gullo after Wednesday’s defeat. “It’s tough whether you get blown out or if you lose one or two to nothing.”
Bear Facts: The Bears are now 3-8 on the season and 0-4 in North Suburban Lake Division contests. They lost two to conference rivals Mundelein last week before dropping two to Libertyville this week. In those four contests, the Bears have been outscored 35-4.
Ben Gullo allowed just four hits in five innings in Tuesday’s game. He also struck out eight, and at one point fanned five in a row.
The Wildcat’s Nick Coutre, who hit homers in the first inning of both contests, claimed he hadn’t homered since he was twelve.
Next Up: The Bears play Antioch at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, April 14, in Antioch, in a game rescheduled from Friday, April 15. On Saturday, April 16 they play Palatine at home.