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La Salle-Peru pitcher Austin Smith watches a bunt roll down the first-base line Thursday during the fifth inning of the Cavaliers’ 6-3 loss to Rockford East at Veterans Park in Peru. The bunt stayed fair and helped spark a three-run inning by the E-Rabs. NewsTribune photo/Genna Ord
La Salle-Peru junior Andres Martinez looks up after getting thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double during the second inning of the Cavaliers’ 6-3 loss to Rockford East on Thursday at Veterans Park in Peru. NewsTribune photo/Genna Ord
Like every team this spring, the La Salle-Peru baseball team had little practice time outside.
The Cavaliers only practiced outside three times prior to Friday’s season opener against Rockford East at Veterans Park in Peru.
It showed as the Cavs managed just three hits and committed three errors in a 6-3 loss to the E-Rabs.
“(We were a) little rusty,” first-year L-P coach Matt Glupczynski said. “That is to be expected just getting out this week on the field. Fielding ground balls, fielding fly balls and hitting off live pitching, that’s always going to be a little slower than in the second, third, fourth or fifth week into the season. It’ll come. It’ll definitely come.”
The Cavs got off to a good start as senior Kyle Jenkins pitched a 1-2-3 top of the first before L-P got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first.
No. 2 hitter Adam Happ walked before fellow senior Austin Smith ripped a double down the left-field line to give L-P a 1-0 lead.
The Cavs went up 2-0 in the third when lead-off hitter Bret Storm walked before Smith drove him with an RBI single.
After the third, L-P was held hitless and managed just one more run on a walk, an error and an RBI groundout by Kyle Rothrock.
“Early on, we got guys on, we got a couple timely hits, and it shows if you can get guys on and you can put pressure on the other team, good things are going to happen,” Glupczynski said. “Then it seemed like once they started to come back, we started to tense up and we can’t do that. You have to answer back and continue to put pressure on them. That will come. We have some good senior leadership who will get us right back on track and the young guys will follow.”
Jenkins pitched four innings and left with a 2-1 lead.
He allowed one run on four hits while striking out eight batters and walking none.
“He did very nice, and if it wasn’t early in the season, he would have kept pitching,” Glupczynski said. “But he was on a pitch limit. You don’t win any conference championships or regional championships or anything like that on the first day, so he was on a pitch count. We had to see what some of our other guys could do.”
Smith came on to pitch the fifth inning.
The E-Rabs opened the inning with a single followed by an attempted sacrifice bunt that hugged the line and allowed Jeremy Cole to reach, putting runners on first and second.
After a sacrifice bunt, a run scored on an error. A balk and a wild pitch brought in two more runs and gave Rockford East a 3-2 lead.
The E-Rabs added a run in the sixth and another in the seventh.
Smith went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs for L-P. He also took the loss on the mound. Erik Gens and Bret Storm pitched the final two innings for L-P.
A.J. Gordon earned the win in relief for the E-Rabs (1-0), while Jared Bloom picked up the save.
The Cavs return to action at 11 a.m. today for a doubleheader against Rockford Auburn.
Smith will start the first game for L-P, while Rothrock will get the ball in the second game.
Note: Glupczynski said junior pitcher Noah Lamboley “is still a few weeks away” with an injury to his pitching hand.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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