Baseball: ThunderBolts pitching staff turns things around
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media August 6, 2013 9:34PM
Updated: September 8, 2013 6:13AM
The Windy City ThunderBolts pitching staff has had its ups and downs this season, but the starting rotation has blossomed since the All-Star break.
The biggest turnaround has come from Matt Wickswat. The left-hander entered the break on a six-game losing streak, and it reached seven despite a gem in his first start after the break, when he allowed three runs in eight innings against Traverse City.
He followed that with back-to-back wins, allowing one run in seven innings July 25 against Evansville and one in eight innings July 31 against River City.
“I’m definitely building confidence,” Wickswat said. “It was tough to go through that losing streak, and it always feels good to win. The main thing is just giving us a chance to win every time out.”
Wickswat took the loss Monday night against Joliet, but he was hurt by three errors as he allowed six runs, just two earned, in four innings.
Overall, Windy City starters have posted a solid 3.82 ERA since the break.
“Everyone is pitching well and it does kind of become contagious,” Windy City’s Daniel Cropper said. “You hope when you pitch a good game, it motivates the other guys to go out and match you.”
The T-Bolts rank eighth in the Frontier League with a 3.97 ERA; not a great position, but one that’s dramatically improved from the first half of the season, when they consistently ranked in the bottom three.
“Our pitchers have been giving us a chance to win pretty much every night,” second baseman Mike Torres said. “We just feel like we have to go out and get a few runs and we’ve got a great shot.”
Don’t run on him
Mokena resident and T-Bolts outfielder Andrew Brauer has quickly developed one of the league’s most feared outfield arms.
Brauer, a standout pitcher in high school at Montini, has seven assists, ranking fourth in the Frontier League among outfielders.
Third-base coaches around the league are putting up the stop sign most times Brauer has a chance to throw home, and they usually pay the price when they don’t.
“Pitching has definitely helped me develop my arm,” Brauer said. “I think it’s one of my biggest strengths defensively.”