Team heats up as playoffs approach

The Wolverines travelled more than 400 miles to Horizon High School in Scottsdale, Arizona before they lost their first game. This loss to Horizon started a nine-game stretch from March 24 to April 14 where Head Coach Matt LaCour’s previously top-ranked baseball team struggled with unexpected inconsistency. The Wolverines lost four games and tied a game to the rival Loyola Cubs, but also beat up on teams shutting out one opponent then beating another 19-2 during the nine game stretch.
The team has seemingly turned it around since slumping in Arizona and during spring break as inexperienced players have gotten more and more comfortable with the rigors of playing varsity baseball.
“Spring break was tough for us,” Jack Flaherty ’14 said. “We didn’t play our best baseball, that’s for sure. It started in Arizona, went 2-2 there.”
These four losses and a tie are the only blemishes on the team’s 16-4-1 record, as of press time. Last season’s national champion team had four losses the entire season, including a similar eight game stretch that included three of its losses.
“Every team goes through a rough patch in their season, and Spring Break seemed to be our rough patch,” Flaherty said.
Comparisons to last year’s team are nothing new for a Wolverine squad that returns such prominent starters as reigning MaxPreps National Player of the Year Flaherty, four year varsity member Brian Ginsberg ’14, Tyler Urbach ’14, Michael Vokulich ’14, Jackson Grayson ’15 and Ezra Steinberg ’15. These returning players have been supported by the emergence of players like Cameron Deere ’16, Jake Suddleson ’16, Matt Karo ’14, Logan Simon ’14 and John Thomas ’16, who filled in for Karo while he was injured.
“[This year’s team and last year’s team] are two different teams,” Flaherty said. “There are a lot of young guys this year. All the young guys, right now, they are really starting to fall into their roles. They are starting to understand who they are as baseball players on this team,” he said.
“Last year, we had a bunch of experience on our team. We kind of knew what our roles were, and this year guys kind of have to feel their way through for part of the season. But, it seems like right now everybody knows what their role is,” he said.
With only three series left in the regular season before playoffs, the Wolverines seem to be hitting their stride at the perfect time.
On April 14 the team came back against the Loyola Cubs and took the game into extra innings before the game was called as a tie. Following that game, the Wolverines won their next four games by a combined score of 31-5 including the 9-1 victory over the Cubs the next game.
“We have had a lot better energy in the dugout,” Steinberg said. “Obviously, against Loyola we are going to have energy, but I feel like we have done a good job carrying that over since we played them.”
The team is also getting healthier as they enter the final stretch of their season. Thomas was praised by teammates and LaCour for the job he did replacing injured starter Karo at the catcher spot, but Karo’s return certainly makes the Wolverines more experienced behind the plate.
“I’ve really looked at everything in perspective,” Karo said. “Just try to do whatever I can to help the team win and I’ve just been trying to take every day one at a time, and it’s really paid off. I think I’m fully back; I think I’m 100 percent now.”
The Wolverines hosted the Alemany Warriors Tuesday, but results were not available at press time. Their next game is the second game against the Warriors May 2 at Alemany before the team closes their league season with games against Chaminade and Notre Dame.
“I think we have the ability to continue to play well and ride our momentum through the rest of the season if we just keep working hard,” outfielder Suddleson said.