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Baseball notes: Young, talented Nazareth group passes early tests

Nazareth baseball coach Lee Milano wanted to test his young but talented team early in the season.

On Sunday, Milano sent out an email to a large group of schools looking for a last-minute add-on game, but only one school responded – Homewood-Flossmoor. A talented program that churns out next-level players on a regular basis, the Vikings were the ideal test for the Roadrunners, which finished 27-11 and lost in the Class 3A sectional finals last season.

The Vikings scored four runs in the seventh inning to pull out a 7-6 victory, but Milano was encouraged by the results. The Roadrunners started five sophomores, a freshmen, a junior and two seniors.

“I feel really good about this group,” Milano said. “We lost a heartbreaker to H-F, but that’s a really good team. We’ve faced some still pitching early in the season. H-F had two guys throwing in the 90s. It was a really good high school game, just back and forth. We showed some resiliency and weren’t intimidated at all. We had some good at-bats with nine hits.

“We just didn’t close it out. We’re pretty young, but we have a lot of depth. We’re pretty talented. They were able to put down some good at-bats, but we learned a lot. I think you learn more in defeats than wins.”

Well, if that’s the case, the Roadrunners (3-1) might have just a few lessons this seasons due to a team with five Division I players. The Roadrunners bounced back with a quality 12-8 win over Romeoville on Tuesday.

“We faced another guy throwing in the 90s, a high Division I kid,” Milano said. “Our name is out there that we’re really good, which is good. We’re going to see everybody’s top guy. That’s good because we can hit.”

Sophomore shortstop Cooper Malamazian, an Indiana recruit, is a marquee name leading the charge for the Roadrunners. Sophomore infielder/outfielder Nick Drtina (Louisville), sophomore infielder/outfielder John Hughes (North Carolina) and junior centerfielder Lucas Smith (UIC) are among the top returnees.

“I think Cooper is one of the best shortstops in the state,” Milano said. “He’s a high-end talent. Lucas is doing everything out there. He’s a leader in the outfield and a really dangerous hitter. Bobby Kutt has started off hot offensively.”

Milano said he’s particularly pleased by the development of senior catcher Sam Wampler at the plate after spending nearly all of last season playing exclusively on defense.

“Sam has started off hot, too,” Milano said. “Sam caught every game last year, but this year in his first at-bat against Reavis, he hit a home run. He’s a great example of someone who bought into the team concept and did his job last year. I used a DH for him pretty much every game last year.”

Lions split first two games

Lyons opened up the season with an impressive 11-2 victory over Neuqua Valley on Monday. The Lions (1-1) have been relying on Charlie Greifenkamp and Jack McNamara to be key leaders this spring.

“Our team was very well balanced with pitching, defense and timely hitting,” Lyons coach Kevin Diete said. “I was very impressed with how well we ran the bases and put pressure on their defense. Our pitchers were efficient with throwing strikes and only allowed three walks all game.

“Jack McNamara and Charlie Greifenkamp have been terrific leaders. Overall, the team has been very responsive to coaching and working hard toward their goals. We need a core group of junior players and pitchers to step up in their respective roles to help us be successful in the long run.”

Riverside Brookfield update

With 2021 Suburban Life Player of the Year Owen Murphy back for one final season, Riverside Brookfield is a team to watch this spring. The Notre Dame recruit has helped the Bulldogs (2-0) get off to a solid start, defeating DePaul Prep 8-0 and Noble Street College Prep 10-0 in four innings. Murphy, who had a triple and drove in a run, pitched four innings in the win over DePaul Prep, allowing one hit and striking out eight. Jack Niekrasz tossed three innings of shutout work to finish out the game.

“We’ve had numerous cancellations due to poor weather this spring, but we hope the weather clears up for our spring back next week,” Riverside Brookfield coach Dallas Till said.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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