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Prep baseball: Griffins get aggressive to beat Celtics

NEW LENOX – Lincoln-Way East’s Casey Schilf has nothing against a patient approach at the plate.

But when he stepped into the batter’s box in the top of the seventh inning against Providence Catholic on Monday, patience was the last thing on his mind.

As such, Schilf picked out the first pitch he saw to his liking and lashed a two-run double, which provided the difference in a 4-2 victory for the Griffins (14-3).

“I was looking for something early. I didn’t want to get deep in the count,” Schilf said. “I just wanted to hopefully hit something hard. In my earlier at-bats I didn’t get the result I wanted. I was just looking early in the count to hit it hard somewhere, and luckily it found a hole.”

It was a fairly quick response to a challenge from the Celtics (8-7), who tied the game at 2 in the bottom half of the fifth inning. An RBI double from Ryan O’Neil plated Luke Pell and provided the first earned run scored off of Lincoln-Way East starting pitcher Cole Kirschsieper.

Kirschsieper, a University of Illinois recruit, allowed an unearned run in the third inning, when O’Neil once again doubled and scored on an infield error. But the fifth inning proved to be a rare relinquishment of the dominance he showed the rest of the game.

Providence had three hits in the inning, but a costly pickoff kept the Celtics from possibly doing more damage. After Kirschsieper escaped that danger, he only allowed an infield hit in the sixth and retired the Celtics in swift fashion in the seventh.

“I knew a lot of guys on that team, and I know how to approach them,” Kirschseiper said. “But they know what’s coming too. Some of the pitches I didn’t locate good. But I was just trying to stay ahead in the count.”

That worked for the most part, as Kirschsieper faced more than four batters in only one inning, the fifth, as he struck out seven and walked none.

Even so, Kirschsieper (6-0) was closing in on the 105-pitch count at the end of the game, which required a little jolt of adrenaline to get him through. Lincoln-Way East coach Eric Brauer was pleased his ace was able to grind out a victory, which is the 17th in his high school career, establishing a school record for Lincoln-Way East.

“I’m super happy for Cole, he threw a great game,” Brauer said. “No one has won more games at East than Cole. You could tell at the end of that game he had a little extra velosity and a little extra zip, and he wanted to finish that game. Anytime you get a shot in the arm like Casey’s double, as a pitcher, you want to go out there and nail it down.”