College Baseball: Lewis gets jump on St. Xavier
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media April 8, 2014 8:00PM
Lewis' Dylan Cysewski pitches Tuesday against St. Xavier. | Supplied photo
Updated: May 10, 2014 6:35AM
Going back to his days at St. Laurence, Lewis’ Joel Rotkvich is used to the super-utility role.
Any infield spot, even some spot duty on the mound, he’s ready, willing and able.
“It’s nice to be a sophomore and get some playing time,” Rotkvich said. “It is a little bit of a struggle not being able to get used to one specific position, but even in high school I got bumped around. I kind of grew used to it.”
With starting shortstop Mike Barajas out with an injury, Rotkvich has made the most of his more consistent time at short over the past week. In helping host Lewis to a 7-2 win Tuesday over St. Xavier, Rotkvich finished 2-for-2 with a run and some sterling play on defense.
“Joel’s really stepped in. He’s been a great steadying force for us defensively,” Lewis coach Tim McDonough said.
With Lewis utilizing a bullpen strategy on the mound, Rotkvich recorded seven outs in the field, including a highlight-reel grab in the second. St. Xavier’s Bryan Polak hit a screamer to Rotkvich’s left, but the shortstop dived, scooped the ball and fired a bullet to first for the out.
He repeated the defensive gem in almost identical fashion in the seventh, robbing Damon Softcheck of an infield hit.
“You’ve got to stay mentally strong,” Rotkvich said. “Know when the ball comes your way, especially with the struggles we’ve been having, you’ve got to make the routine plays, pick up your pitchers and every once in a while, maybe a ‘Web Gem,’ too.”
Six different pitchers took the mound for Lewis (16-14), limiting St. Xavier to seven hits and stranding seven runners. Dylan Cysewski (2-1) earned the win, throwing two perfect innings with two strikeouts.
Coming off a brutal 9-8 loss to Indianapolis in a game the Flyers led 8-2 going to the ninth, McDonough loved what he saw of his staff.
“Ecstatic,” McDonough said. “We’ve had some issues with it, but the guys came out and threw strikes. They came out and reestablished the zone and showed me a lot in how they competed.”
Jared Pyatt finished 2-for-5 with three RBI, including a two-run double in the third that gave Lewis a 3-0 lead. Kane Lombardo (2-for-3, run), Mark Kornacker (RBI, run) and Josh Walinski (RBI, run) also contributed for Lewis.
Polak led St. Xavier (12-17) with a two-run home run, an opposite-field dinger to right in the sixth to cut into Lewis’ 3-0 lead.
“Our approach was looking the other way, so with a first-pitch fastball I was looking at the short porch,” Polak said. “We’ve got to put the ball in play, and we had too many strikeouts. Swing and make them make mistakes.”