Evanston baseball coach Frank Consiglio knew it would be tough to match the success the Wildkits have enjoyed on the diamond over the past 10 years this spring.
Now the veteran coach is promising changes, after the Kits dropped a 1-0 decision to Glenbrook North Saturday morning and fell to just 8-12 on the season, 4-5 in Central Suburban League play.
Evanston’s pitching staff appears to have righted itself after a slow start with Chris Wolfe, Noah Leib and Cameron Mulvihill all logging quality starts in the past week and Henry Eberhart sparkling in relief. But inconsistent defense ---- especially in the outfield --- and lack of clutch hitting have held the Kits back so far in the first half of the season.
Consiglio’s hoping for a second half surge and is likely to promote at least 3 underclassmen to the varsity roster next week.
“I’m not a reactionary person and this isn’t a reaction to our (won-loss) record,” Consiglio said in the postgame huddle Saturday. “But of all the teams we’ve lost to in Illinois, GBS (Glenbrook South) is the only team I thought was clearly better than us. It’s disappointing to not beat some of these teams that we’re just as good as.
“We’re going to look at our roster as a staff and try to find some better fits. We are going to make some major changes. We’ve been really good on the mound this week, but all year long our poor outfield play has been a problem and it was a problem again today. Without that first inning error, Glenbrook North doesn’t score on us.”
Leib, a junior left-hander, was the hard-luck loser on the mound Saturday in a game that started at 7:45 a.m. to try to beat the impending winter storm in the Chicago area. He allowed only that first-inning (unearned) run and tossed a 3-hitter, striking out 6 and walking 1.
But ETHS left the bases loaded with no outs in the first inning and also totaled just 3 hits against GBN pitchers Eric Orloff and Ronan Clarke. The pair combined for 10 strikeouts, including 4 on called third strikes.
The host Spartans struck for the only run of the game in the first. Danny Fitzpatrick lined a single to left and wound up at second when Joe Bergmann misplayed his hit. A wild pitch and Clarke’s sacrifice fly allowed courtesy runner Jack Fitzharris to score.
Leib pitched out of one other jam, in the GBN fourth. He fanned Quinn Meier with two outs and runners on second and third, following a leadoff single by Clarke and an ETHS error. The lefty retired 7 of the last 8 batters he faced.
Evanston couldn’t break through despite loading the bases in the first on a leadoff single by Tommy Barbato and walks to Wolfe and Leib. Orloff, a crafty lefty, slipped curve balls past both Sawyer Brown and Josh Lipman for called third strikes, then got Bergmann to rap into a forceout to end that threat.
Orloff departed with runners on first and second in the fifth, and Leib flied out deep to left against reliever Clarke. The Wildkits did threaten in the seventh when Connor Groff grounded a leadoff single to center, but pinch-runner David Milazzo was doubled up on Eli Gingold’s liner to short, and after a walk to Barbato, Wolfe bounced out to end the game.