Lake Zurich High School varsity baseball coach Gary Simon was calm and collected as he stood by the visitor’s dugout at Mundelein High School last week. His team had just lost 11-0, as the Mustangs walked off the field in the bottom of the sixth inning because they had just crossed the slaughter rule threshold. Jordan Wiegold’s smash line drive double was the final blow, driving in the last two runs.
Simon, while not thrilled with his team’s performance, also was not overly concerned. He preferred taking the long view, aware that there are plenty of games left in the season to make amends. “We just need to get ready for our next game up in Waukegan,” he said.
“We didn’t play like this in the tournament last week,” Simon said, referring to the annual spring break tournament in Branson, MO. The Bears went 2-3 over vacation, and two of the losses were by one run. The other loss was an 11-0 route at the hands of Ozark High School.
“I’m very excited about our pitching. I thought it was going to be good this year, and our pitchers did really well down there,” said Simon. “We go down there every year to find out who can play, and now we know.”
In the first game of the tourney on March 28, junior Mike Lutz pitched a complete game, but the Bears still lost 1-0 to Branson. "When the game was over, the two umpires came up to Mike and told him he didn't deserve to lose the game," Simon said. "He pitched a heckuva game."
The following day, Lake Zurich won the rematch handily, 12-2. They lit up Branson for 18 hits, as senior Parker Asmann and juniors Sean Eder and Zach Till each had three hits. The trio also combined for 11 RBI. Senior Ben Gullo—one of the team’s quartet of solid starting pitchers—got the win.
Lake Zurich dropped both games of a double bill on March 30, the first a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Kickapoo High. Asmann blanked the ‘poos over the first six innings, but the team scored three in the seventh to steal the victory. Mike Eder’s two-run blast accounted for all of the Bear’s scoring.
The second game was the 11-0 blowout to Ozark.
Lake Zurich made amends the next day with a solid 8-1 win over Hillcrest High. Senior Mike Schnur fanned seven and scattered just two hits over six innings in that contest. Lutz pitched the final frame and struck out the side by throwing just nine pitches. Schnur also supported his own pitching effort with three hits, and seniors Mark Dorfman and Mitch Tuthill each had two.
Last year, the Bears finished with a 19-17 record (9-7 in their NSC Lake Conference). They subsequently lost 11-6 to Glenbrook North in the regional semifinal contest.
Some of the team’s key players that graduated last year: Danny Johnson (pitcher/outfield), Ryan Bartmans (third base), Jordan Johnson (catcher), Tim Bavester and Anthony Orlando (both first base), and Kyle Sanders and Justin Russell (both outfield).
Key players returning: Parker Asmann (pitcher/second base), Mike Schnur (Pitcher/third base), Ben Gullo (pitcher/first base), Mike Irgang (pitcher/first base), Brian Wiest (pitcher/first base), Mike Lutz (pitcher/first base), Eddie Szarkowicz (relief pitcher), Danny Minogue (outfield), Mitch Tuthill (outfield), Mark Dorfman (outfield), Tim Sayre (outfield), and Zach Till (shortstop), all seniors. Also juniors Jeremy Ruesch and Dan O’Connor (catcher), and Mike Lutz (pitcher/third base).
Noteworthy newcomers: Steve Kuhn (Picher/first base), Wyatt Spector (pitcher), Sean Eder (pitcher), John Orlando (outfield), Jake Giulianelli (second base), Collin Roto (second base) and Jacob LaRue (infield), all juniors.
Top newcomers: P/1B Steve Kuhn, jr.; P Wyatt Spector, jr.; P Sean Eder, jr.; OF John Orlando, jr.; SS Jake Guilianelli, jr.; 2B Collin Roto, jr.; IF Jacob LaRue, jr.
Lake Zurich’s starting rotation is anchored by three-year starter Parker Asmann, who was named all-conference last year and has committed to Evansville. He won five games last year. Seniors Ben Gullo, Mike Lutz and Mike Schnur should round out the rotation, with Mike Irgang, Eddie Szarkowicz and Brian Wiest also in the mix for possible starts.
One area in need of improvement this season for the Bears is defense. “It was our Achilles heel last season,” Simon said. “We've been working hard to improve the defensive side of the game.”