Disabato: St. Laurence pitching staff firing goose eggs
By Pat Disabato firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @disabato April 5, 2013 11:20PM
Zach Lewis, of St. Laurence. | File photo
NAME IP H ER BB K
St. Laurence’s starting rotation (stats through April 4):
Zach Lewis 13 2/3 3 0 6 21
Mike Kornacker 9 2 0 0 16
Brad Wood 8 4 0 5 13
Kyle Estand 11 8 0 2 15
FILE PHOTOS (LEWIS, KORNACKER, WOOD) AND SUPPLIED PHOTO (ESTAND)
Updated: May 8, 2013 6:30AM
Dominate: to rule over; govern; control.
Sit down, my devoted reader, or the power of said staff’s statistics I’m about to reveal might just knock you on your keister.
In 49 innings through Thursday, the Vikings have yet to allow an earned run. Zero. Zilch. Nada. They’ve given up two runs — both unearned.
A team ERA of 0.00.
The Vikings have allowed just 21 hits, 17 walks and struck out 70 over those 49 innings — numbers that would make Sandy Koufax take notice.
Somehow, they lost one of those games, 2-1 to Simeon. Other than that blip, the Vikings are 7-1 and have outscored opponents 64-2.
“It’s been pretty amazing,” St. Laurence coach Pete Lotus said. “Every guy has just been incredible. I knew we had a very good staff, but you never expect to see this.”
Much of the staff’s dominance can be attributed to starters Zach Lewis, Mike Kornacker, Brad Wood and Kyle Estand, all right-handers. They’ve registered 412/3 of those innings.
“This is the best rotation we’ve had, top to bottom,” Lotus said. “This group has the ability to be competitive every game. We’ve struck out a lot of guys. We haven’t had to make many plays on defense.”
Lewis, Kornacker and Wood are power pitchers, consistently hovering in the 87- to 88-mph range. Lewis, a Palos Heights resident, has the ability to reach the low 90s. Kornacker, too, has flirted with the big 9-0.
While regularly residing in Powder River, each has a breaking ball that demands hitters’ respect.
Estand may not equal his mound mates in velocity, but he makes up for it in control and moxie.
“Kyle doesn’t throw as hard, but he has great movement and gets a lot of ground balls,” Lotus said.
While all have exceptional arms, it certainly hasn’t hurt that each is a well-seasoned veteran.
Though Kornacker and Wood are juniors, each has tasted varsity competition since they were freshmen.
Kornacker, a Lemont resident, already has committed to Purdue, where he’ll be allowed to play the field and swing the bat.
Wood is fielding offers from multiple Division I programs, including Northern Illinois, South Alabama and Western Michigan.
Lewis, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior, has yet to commit. A recent academic qualifier, he should start to see a flood of offers.
Lewis is open to pitching anywhere, even a junior college, which would dramatically reduce the financial responsibility on his family.
“I’m definitely interested in junior college and then going to Division I,” he said. “I’m still looking and trying to find the best fit for me.”
Lewis began his high school career at Marist, then transferred to St. Laurence before his junior season.
His father, Tony, was a star pitcher at St. Laurence in the early 1980s before heading to Pepperdine and being drafted by San Diego.
Transferring schools can be difficult, but then having the legend of your father constantly hanging over you could make the transition even more troublesome.
Not so, the younger Lewis said.
“Transferring to St. Laurence was the best decision for me,” Lewis said. “I knew a lot of the guys and got along with them. I know what my dad has done in his baseball career. But I really didn’t feel pressure to do what my dad did here. I’ve learned from him and I take his advice and try to apply it to what I do. But I really haven’t thought about the comparisons much.”
Lewis, for one, isn’t surprised at the numbers his fellow pitchers are posting. He saw the work the group put in during the offseason, whether it was hitting the weights or fine-tuning mechanics.
“We compete and push each other to get better every day,” Lewis said of the pitching staff. “We’re a very close-knit group. We pick each other up when we need it. We’re willing to do whatever we can to give us the best chance to win.”
It’s that type of leadership that’s impressed Lotus most about Lewis. If the Vikings are going to fulfill their lofty goals, Lewis’ leadership could be as valuable as his performance on the field.
“Last year he came in and tried to fit in,” Lotus said. “This year, he’s turned into a leader. I saw him change over the summer and start taking on a lot of leadership qualities. He’s been a great guy for our younger players to look up to. Zach’s been tremendous.”
In more ways than one.