Following a tumultuous week, the baseball team got a fresh start with a double-header sweep.
The Knights lost beloved teammate and friend Tommy Schuman on March 31 after he was found unresponsive in his bed from still unknown causes. A clearly emotional team played its first game since the tragedy on Thursday but blew a lead at Andrew, losing 5-4 in the final inning.
Saturday was a different story. The team was playing at home, the spirits seemed higher and the outcome was different. A win is a win, and the Knights (9-3) got two in very different ways with an 8-7 comeback over Normal Community and a 10-0 rout of Richards.
"We needed this win, especially with the way the game ended the other night," Central coach Sean Bieterman said. "We played with a lot of heart and a lot of intensity today."
Although the spirits were higher Saturday, the Knights still honored Schuman by wearing the No. 19 warmup shirts, hanging his jersey in the dugout and holding a moment of silence before the game.
"His legacy will forever live through our program," the announced said.
Fighting back to normalcy following a tragedy such as this is going to make the team persistent, and that's what the Knights were in the first game against Normal.
Pitcher Brad Bass struggled early, giving up four runs on four walks and two hits before being pulled in the first inning. The sloppy play continued for the Knights in the second inning, when Danny Doherty set up a couple of nice double-play balls but the infielders couldn’t finish the job.
Down 7-2, the Knights got their bats going and fought back to take the 8-7 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Central pitchers were outstanding for the second half of the game, and the defense did its part as well, most notably in the fifth inning. Up 7-6, Normal loaded the bases with no outs but the defense got out of the inning.
Richards won its first matchup with Plainfield South 9-5. But the second game for the Knights was a completely different story, with the Knights winning 10-0 over Richards in five innings. Pitcher Matt Mikolajczak shut down the Bulldogs as he notched more strikeouts (seven) than base runners (five). On offense, it was first baseman Greg Wymer leading the way with four RBIs on 3-of-3 hitting.
"You can’t be prouder of a group of guys," Bieterman said. "They just fought and fought and fought."
The Knights' next game is at 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 9, at home against Thornton.