Brother Rice's Brian Musielak is the SouthtownStar Player of the Week.| Allen Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
It's back to the basics for Lincoln-Way Central.
The Knights recent struggle on defense and inability to come up with the timely hit demand it, according to coach Scott Gardner.
"We haven't been producing a ton of runs and we haven't been playing very well on defense," Gardner said. "We've got a few days of practice this week where we're going to work on focusing on the little things. Guys are trying to do too much at the plate."
Case in point, consecutive losses to rival Lincoln-Way West by scores of 2-1 and 13-4. In the latter game, the Knights committed five errors.
One of the reasons for the struggles at the plate is the absence of Ryan Earl, who's been out a few weeks with a hamstring injury. Earl is a middle-of-the-order run producer.
The good news? Even with the recent struggles, Central is still sitting a solid 18-11 on the season, including 9-4 in the SouthWest Suburban Red.
Pitcher Brad Bass has been outstanding, boasting a 4-2 record and 0.83 ERA. Senior Kevin Mampe has stepped up to fill the No. 2 spot in the rotation and also has produced offensively.
Catcher Cam Post, a freshman, has shown steady improvement both offensively and defensively.
The Knights earned the No. 7 seed in the Andrew Sectional. If the bats and defense come around, having a pitcher the caliber of Bass, a Notre Dame recruit, could afford Central an extended playoff stay.
"Our starting pitching is very strong," Gardner said. "If we can get back to playing consistent defense and come up with timely hitting, we can do some things down the stretch."
Bajenski Tournament In Full Swing
The third annual Steven M. Bajenski Tournament kicks into high gear with second-round winners' bracket action on Thursday, followed by third-round games on Friday and championship on Saturday. Thursday's highlights include a battle between Catholic Blue Co-champions St. Rita and St. Laurence at 5:15 p.m. at Standard Bank Stadium in Crestwood, followed by a Joliet Catholic vs. Providence tilt at 7:30 p.m. Saturday's championship is slated for 7 p.m. at Standard Bank Stadium.
Player of the Week
Brian Musielak, of Brother Rice, is this week's SouthtownStar Baseball Player of the Week. The senior right-hander limited St. Laurence to three hits and one walk in tossing a 2-0 complete game shutout.