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Baseball: Providence gets jump on Minooka

Providence Catholic starter Yianni Pavlopoulos  fires home 1st inning.   Minookvs. Providence Catholic High School varsity baseball Joliet

Providence Catholic starter Yianni Pavlopoulos fires home in the 1st inning. Minooka vs. Providence Catholic High School varsity baseball at Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Illinois, Saturday, March 23, 2013. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 23, 2013 2:33AM



This was one occasion when winning or losing probably was not the most important element.

Merely playing a game on an outstanding diamond that is in midseason condition meant the world to two of the best baseball teams in the Joliet area.

Providence junior right-hander Jake Godfrey slammed the door on Minooka through 42/3 innings of relief and junior Shawn Cavallone and senior Steve Gruszkowski delivered the big hits in a five-run second inning as the Celtics scored a 6-3 victory Saturday afternoon in teams’ season opener at Wayne L. King Jr. Field on the Joliet Junior College campus.

“I coached here at JJC (under King) for 14 years,” Providence coach Mark Smith said. “This field is something. I asked coach King if we could play three games today. He said, ‘No, Smitty, I’ve got things to do.’

“I know our kids were excited to be outside and playing. We’ve been outside a little but had not seen live pitching before today.”

Minooka coach Jeff Petrovic expressed similar sentiments.

“I want to thank Wayne (King) for allowing us to be out here,” he said. “This was really a nice day. What a shame it would have been if we had been sitting home.”

Because of weather, local high school fields are not ready. With some snow in the Sunday forecast, Smith and Petrovic both expressed concern for next weekend’s WJOL Area Baseball Invite.

That is a wait-and-see proposition.

Minooka grabbed a 2-0 lead against Providence senior right-hander Yianni Pavlopoulos in the top of the first inning as Max Brozovich doubled home a run and Steve Wittkamp singled him home.

Plate umpire Dan Marshall was injured on a pitch in the top of the second inning, causing a 23-minute delay. In the bottom of that inning, Providence scored five on four walks and three wild pitches by Minooka starter Mitch Vogrin, Gruszkowski’s RBI single and Cavallone’ two-run single.

“Welcome to varsity ball,” Smith said of Cavallone. “That was his first at-bat, and Gruszkowski batted maybe three or four times all last year. It was good to see both those guys come through.”

“I couldn’t ask for a better situation in my first varsity game,” Cavallone said. “The delay for the ump might have thrown their pitcher off. We all know what they did last year (the Indians finished fourth in the state in Class 4A), so we wanted to get off to a good start against them.”

Godfey, who reached his 60-pitch limit, entered in the third inning and allowed two hits, including pinch-hitter Brennan Polcyn’s RBI single in with two outs in the seventh. Kyle Crawford relieved and got the final out, but not before Minooka brought the potential tying run to the plate.

“I felt ready to go,” said Godfrey, who hit 90 on a gun his first couple of innings. “This was awesome to be out here. For the most part, all my pitches were working. I’ve been working on my breaking ball, and I hoped to be a little stronger this year.”

Besides not doing much with Godfrey, Minooka had other opening-day issues.

“We looked like a team that hadn’t been on the field,” Petrovic said. “The poor play is frustrating. The kids didn’t feel good about it. But I’ll go out on a limb and say they aren’t going to feel that way a lot this year.”



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