PLAINFIELD – It had been a week since the Plainfield Central baseball team had been fortunate enough to get a game in with the relentlessly poor weather conditions for athletic contests in recent days.
“I looked out here on Tuesday and our field was underwater,” Plainfield Central pitcher Anthony Noble said. “It just felt pretty good to finally get out here and play.”
That enthusiasm brimmed over early for the Wildcats as they cruised to a 10-0, five-inning win over visiting Joliet Central on Friday afternoon.
“I thought we started off a little bit dead and then it picked up, energy-wise,” Plainfield Central coach John Rosner said. “It helped with getting two in the first.”
A slow, steady stream of offense kept the Wildcats (16-8) firmly in control. Plainfield Central plated those two runs in the first, stretched its lead with three in the third, tacked on four more in the fourth and finally got the definitive run that ended the game with a solitary run in the fifth.
The Wildcats got at least one hit from every spot in the lineup and Daniel Guiliano led the attack as the only Plainfield Central player with more than one hit, as he finished with two hits and three RBIs.
And while the Wildcats had a few missed opportunities along the way, the ability to seize the majority of the moments that they had to post runs proved to be a significant turning point.
“Hopefully we take advantage of mistakes when they are given to us, and we have to come up with hits with runners in scoring position in order to be successful,” Rosner said. “I thought we did a couple of times today, but then again, we had the bases loaded and we grounded into a double play. But that’s baseball.”
As it turned out, the Wildcats did not need a bunch of offense in order to support Noble. Considering the layoff, Noble was pretty sharp, and when that faltered, he needed only to rely on his defensive unit, whuch turned in a number of spectacular plays. And Noble was smart enough to realize that asset at his disposal.
“I trust my defense every time I go out there,” Noble said. “They always make plays behind me, they don’t kick the ball around. I just pitch to contact.”
A spectacular play in foul territory by Wildcat first baseman Jac Lindish squashed a potential third-inning rally by the Steelmen (8-14), and then a real web gem by shortstop Charlie Bischoff in the fifth on a slow infield roller only made Noble’s argument that he can consistenly rely on his defensive unit even stronger.
“We played well defensively, and that’s good to see,” Rosner said. “Anthony has good enough stuff that when he finds the zone consistently he’s a pretty good pitcher. There were some spots today where he was pretty good and there were other spots where he’s got some opportunity to improve.”
Noble allowed just one hit. He finished with six strikeouts and issued three free passes.
It was a frustrating loss for the Steelmen, who played better than the score might indicate. On multiple instances, Plainfield Central reached on infield hits that died in the high grass, and the Steelmen were a step short in recovering the infield.
The Wildcats had 10 hits, but only one went for extra bases, a two-run double by Ryan Daly in the third inning. Plainfield Central also coaxed eight walks and seemed to constantly have multiple runners on base, and by keeping them in motion, opened extra holes in the infield for their batters to find places to put them.
“We gave up too many infield hits, but then again, we tell our guys to attack baseballs, and they didn’t today, so that was kind of frustrating,” Joliet Central coach Kevin Fitzgerald said. “Their pitcher was good, but we gave away too many at-bats in situations where we were 2-0 and 3-1, and the swings we put on balls weren’t good. We’ve been in a little bit of a rut the last couple of games, but again, you are playing good pitching in our conference, and its just a battle sometimes.”
Noah Riley had the lone hit for Joliet Central.