Pitching and defense have been the Timothy Christian baseball team’s best friends at the start of the 2018 season.

The Trojans jumped out to a hot 4-0 start thanks to strong pitching and equally deft fielding.

“We’ve been pitching pretty well,” said veteran Timothy Christian coach Jim Snoeyink. “We’ve been fielding pretty well, too. We had two errors in the first four games and one of those was a dropped popup that got lost in the sun. The fielding has been strong.”

Snoeyink said the biggest question mark heading into the season was the team’s hitting. “That’s because we lost five starters,” he said. “But we’ve had some young guys step up and they have hit fairly well.”

Seniors Jimmy Allen, Nick Huisman and Jake Loerop have been strong on the mound in the early going for the Trojans. “Jake Loerop threw a great game the first game of the year,” said Snoeyink. “Trent Marrera, who is a junior, also has thrown the ball well.”

Timothy also benefits from the presence of Allen on the mound, in the field and at the plate. He’s a returning all-state selection who is headed to Western Michigan University on a baseball scholarship.

“Jimmy didn’t pitch a lot for us last year, he mainly played shortstop, but he will pitch more this season,” said Snoeyink.

Huisman will continue his baseball career at Division II Lewis University.

At the plate, Snoeyink has been pleased with the efforts of Harrison Stanton, who was brought up to varsity as a sophomore, in the No. 2 slot. Veteran catcher Connor Gwaltney also is back and Snoeyink has liked how Huisman has swung the bat in the early going.

Snoeyink cited strong contributions from younger players such as Marrera, a junior, and Thomas Becvar. “Trent has been getting on base and Thomas is a junior outfielder who has been hitting the ball well so far,” he said. “Another outfielder is Garrett Pullen (junior) who is off to a good start.”

Snoeyink said the team’s pitching depth plus the varied contributions at the plate in the first few games is the reason why there is optimism. “We lost a lot of guys, but we have that pitching depth,” he said. “That’s encouraging. It’s going to depend on how well we hit the ball and so far I like what I see.”

Timothy left for Disney World in Orlando over the weekend for its annual spring trip. Timothy had been going to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in previous years. Timothy will play five games in Florida.

Timothy started the season at the IC Catholic Prep Early Bird Classic at Plunkett Park in Elmhurst. The Trojans were 14-0 winners in five innings against Holy Trinity. Loerop threw a five-inning, one-hit shutout. He allowed one hit, struck out three and walked none. Allen had a double in the game. Timothy had seven hits and led 12-0 after three innings. Timothy made no errors and turned a double play. “We were sure-handed in the field,” assistant coach Jim Boven said.

In a 6-2 win over St. Joseph at IC Catholic Prep, the Trojans trailed 2-0 after three innings, but scored four runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth. Timothy had nine hits and held St. Joe’s to five hits.

In the fifth, Pullen tripled to lead off the inning and scored on a wild pitch. Allen walked and Stanton advanced on an error with Allen advancing to third. Gwaltney reached first on a fielder’s choice that scored Allen. Huisman then reached first on an error and Gwaltney moved to third. Loerop singled, scoring Gwaltney. Marrera singled in Huisman.

In the sixth, Pullen singled to lead off the inning again. Allen then homered to right-center to give the Trojans a four-run lead.

Huisman pitched a scoreless fifth inning, striking out two and Allen came on to pitch the sixth and seventh innings. Timothy ended the game with a double play and committed no errors. Marrera was the winning pitcher.

Timothy then won a pair of Metro Suburban Conference Red Division games against Guerin Prep in River Grove where the game-time temperature was 40, but Boven noted the real-feel was “much lower!” Timothy won the series opener 7-3.

Timothy scored a run in the third inning. After Marrera reached base on an error and Ty Merrick walked, Pullen advanced them with a sacrifice bunt. Marrera scored on Allen’s groundout.

Marrera led off the fifth inning and reached again on a Guerin error. He then stole second and third base and scored on a throwing error by the catcher. Pullen walked and moved to second on Allen’s bloop single. Stanton was hit by a pitch. Gwaltney singled to left to score Pullen. Huisman then drove in Allen with a sacrifice fly.

A bases-clearing double in the fifth cut Timothy’s lead to a run. In the sixth, Marrera led off with a single and stole second. He advanced to third on a groundout and scored when Pullen reached on an error.

After Stanton led off the seventh with a single, Gwaltney walked. Stanton and pinch runner Ethan Roemmick advanced on a fielder’s choice. Stanton scored on an error and Becvar singled to center scoring Roemmich.

Huisman was the winning pitcher. He allowed no hits and two runs over 4 2/3 innings. He struck out 12. Pullen threw 2 1/3 innings of relief.

In the series finale, Timothy was a 12-0 winner in five innings. It was Timothy’s home opener. Allen shut down the Crusaders on the mound, throwing a complete-game shutout, striking out 12, walking one and giving up one hit.

Becvar had 5 RBI on the strength of two doubles. Allen, Gwaltney and Marrera each had two hits. Huisman drove in two runs with a single and sacrifice fly.

Timothy led 6-0 after the first inning and 11-0 after three innings. The Trojans had 11 hits. Guerin committed 10 errors in the two games.


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