Leverenz ‘awesome’ in varsity debut

CRYSTAL LAKE – When Crystal Lake Central baseball coach Dan Badgley left his home Friday morning, he told his wife that he would be home around 6 p.m. as he fully expected that Friday’s Fox Valley Conference Fox Division game against Woodstock would be postponed because of inclement weather.

But when athletic director Jeff Aldridge and Badgley surveyed the field in the early afternoon, they decided they could get the game in even as the White Sox postponed their game against Minnesota at about the same time.

“With this spring season that we’ve had, you have to play when you can,” Badgley said.

The Tigers (5-5 overall, 1-4 FVC Fox) defeated the weather and the Blue Streaks, 12-2, in five innings in a game that the temperature at first pitch was 40 degrees with gusty winds and spurts of heavy snow.

In the first inning, the snow and cold weather visibly bothered Tigers starting pitcher Dan Leverenz, who was making his first varsity start. Leverenz got the first out of the game on one pitch, but then ran into some trouble. He hit Jordan Sumner, then walked the next batter on four pitches before allowing an RBI single to Eric Bell.

Leverenz then settled down and struck out the next two batters to end the inning. In his next inning of work, he struck out the side using a devastating curveball and a hard fastball that tailed away from lefties and jammed righties.

“He pitched awesome,” said Badgley of Leverenz. “He’s got a good fastball, but his curveball is what puts him over the top.”

Leverenz finished his first varsity start by going all five innings while allowing five hits, two earned runs and 10 strikeouts.

“It just feels really good,” said Leverenz, who pitched three innings in relief Tuesday against Crystal Lake South. “I was pretty much in the zone the whole time.”

When the season started, Leverenz approached Badgley and asked if he could pitch. Badgley gave him a chance, and after watching a few bullpen sessions, he started Leverenz in a JV game and liked what he saw. Badgley then used his new pitcher during a few relief appearances and earned his first start Friday.

“As far as I’m concerned, he is easily one of our top three guys now,” Badgley said.

The Blue Streaks (3-4, 2-4 FVC Fox) committed three errors, which extended a few big innings for the Tigers. In the fourth inning, the Tigers pushed seven runs across with the help of three Blue Streak’ errors, which forced starting pitcher Jordan Turner to throw a lot of pitches, which led to his early exit with two outs in the fourth after throwing 85 pitches.

“He threw really well, but we just didn’t play defense behind him,” said Woodstock coach John Oliveira, who noted that poor weather isn’t an excuse for the errors.

“Because of [the errors], he has to throw more pitches, and then Central gets more confidence because they are seeing more pitches,” Oliveira added. “I feel bad for him because he worked his butt off.”

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