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Baseball: Oswego East junior pitcher Griffin Sleyko dazzles in varsity debut

NAPERVILLE – Griffin Sleyko got a swinging third strike on a slider to get out of a jam, and let out a roar as he stalked off the mound.

Oswego East already boasts a high-end pitching combo in Vanderbilt recruit Noah Schultz and Wichita State commit Ashton Izzi.

Sleyko made quite a first impression Wednesday to slot in behind them.

Photos: Oswego East vs. Naperville North baseball

The lanky 6-foot-4 junior right-hander with long, flowing brown hair dazzled in dreary elements. He struck out nine over four innings of a game suspended in the top of the fifth because of rain with Oswego East leading Naperville North 1-0.

Liam Mitchell’s solo homer for the Wolves in the fifth accounted for the game’s lone run.

“I think everybody thinks the same way, [Schultz] and [Izzi] are just two teammates that are pretty good at baseball, just normal guys and teammates,” Sleyko said. “The goal is to be where they are right now.”

He’s sure off to a good start.

Showcasing two fastballs – a two-seamer and a four-seamer – and a slider that had several Huskies’ bats chasing, Sleyko navigated through baserunners in all four innings. He allowed just two hits while walking four, out-dueling Naperville North’s Harrison Cordeiro in a drizzle that intensified as the game progressed.

Sleyko benefited on a few occasions from Huskies’ hitters chasing out of the zone, and got a few generous calls on the outer half of the zone with his fastball. But Sleyko didn’t need much assistance the way he was throwing.

“First game of the year, felt pretty good,” Sleyko said. “My two seam was moving but kept throwing it outside. I had to make an adjustment with my feet and where I was landing and my grip. The slider was working all game.”

Oswego East players cheer on their batter during Wednesday's baseball game against Naperville North in Naperville.

Oswego East players cheer on their batter during Wednesday’s baseball game against Naperville North in Naperville. (Paul Valade

Sleyko showcased cool under fire in his last inning.

He walked the first two batters, and they moved up to second and third with two stolen bases and a balk to put runners on second and third with none out.

But Sleyko blew away the next batter with a high fastball, then put away the next two with swinging third strikes on sliders.

“I had to battle back in that inning,” Sleyko said. “I walked a couple guys and the balk, I didn’t think it was a balk but I had to overcome it. I got in a zone.”

Sleyko, on the sophomore team for most of last season, was promoted to varsity toward the end. He never got in a game as a scheduled start was rained out. But first-year Oswego East coach Brian Schaeffer, Sleyko’s sophomore coach last year, has a read on what the Wolves’ junior is capable of.

Schaeffer is hoping to pencil in Sleyko behind Schultz and Izzi once the conference slate starts rolling next week. The Wolves (0-1) have played just one full game, with two others canceled because of weather.

“If he throws strikes and competes for us it will be a good 1-2-3 rotation,” Schaeffer said. “He’s a good competitor, he’s a baseball guy, loves to be on the mound competing, that’s where he’s at. He’s still developing, still growing into the role that will be asked of him. Hopefully a third starter is the role we hope for him.”

Oswego East's Liam Mitchell slides safely back to first base during Wednesday's baseball game against Naperville North in Naperville.

Oswego East’s Liam Mitchell slides safely back to first base during Wednesday’s baseball game against Naperville North in Naperville. (Paul Valade

Mitchell likes what he says, based off Wednesday’s performance.

“He was awesome,” Mitchell said. “That fourth inning where they had men on second and third and he got out of it, that was crazy. It was a big motivator for the team.”

Indeed, Oswego East had had just one baserunner after Josh Polubinski’s two-out double in the first inning, when Mitchell came to plate with one gone in the fifth.

On the second pitch from Naperville North ace Harrison Cordeiro, who struck out 11, Mitchell turned on a fastball for a homer to left, his first of the season.

“Before the inning our coach was talking about how everybody was playing in the same conditions, our team and their team and we needed to put the ball on the ground or make a play and it will go somewhere,” Mitchell said. “I was looking for fastball. First pitch he threw me was a curveball so I assumed I was going to see a fastball.”

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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