STREATOR — The millennia-old saying "Well begun is half done" still holds true today ... especially so on the baseball diamond.
Streator's first batter in the top of the first singled and eventually scored, while Bulldogs pitching — most notably winning pitcher Zack Grabowski — retired La Salle-Peru's leadoff batter in each and every one of the game's seven innings. With things so well begun the Diamond Dogs got the job done, defeating the visiting Cavaliers 5-0 here in a game moved to the SHS Athletic Fields due to unplayable field conditions in Peru.
Streator is now 2-0 on the young season. La Salle-Peru is 1-3.
Grabowski (6 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 1 BB, 7 K) was masterful, as the tall right-hander pounded the strike zone and was consistently ahead of L-P hitters before handing the ball off to reliever Jacob Bemont (1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 K) for the seventh.
"First of all, you tip your hat to Grabowski. He had a heck of a game on the mound," said SHS coach Beau Albert. "He was up at times early, but he really settled down, and as he settled in there were a couple innings there where the leadoff batter was one pitch/one out. That kind of set the tone.
"He even got a compliment from the umpire that he threw a nice game. Anytime you hear that, you know you're pitching well."
The Streator offense, meanwhile, was every bit as much in control of things.
Diamond Dogs leadoff man Peyton Phillis started the game with a sharp single off L-P starter and losing pitcher Owen Wolfe (3+ IP, 4 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 4 K), stole second and was driven home a few pitches later on the first of two RBI hits off the bat of fellow senior John Benckendorf. Benckendorf added a sliding RBI triple to score Mitch Vickers in the third and scored himself on a Joey Byers sacrifice fly to put the hosts — acting as the visitors in the game — ahead 3-0.
"It's nice to get two wins to start the season," said Benckendorf, who in addition to his big day offensively caught the combined shutout. "We've been practicing well as a team, and we've been doing a good job together bonding.
"We knew we were going to come out this year strong, get the bats going, see our pitchers locking down and work together as a team."
Streator continued to efficiently manufacture runs, adding one in the fourth when Trevor Sember walked before scoring on a Brett Dresbach single, then another in the fifth thanks to a Byers leadoff double followed by a helping-his-own-cause, behind-in-the-count sacrifice fly from Grabowski. That 5-0 lead was plenty safe as the Bulldogs played an "all-around solid, good game," according to Albert, with defensive gems from Byers at shortstop, right fielder Kyle Cantrell and catcher Benckendorf helping to preserve the shutout.
"I thought their pitcher did a great job keeping us off balance," said L-P skipper Matthew Glupczynski," and we swung at a lot of pitches out of the strike zone. ... We seemed to always be in catch-up mode, always behind, and we couldn't get anything going.
"We're young, and we're learning. All in all we did some good things, and we did some bad things. We just have to get better."
Designated hitter Lucas Burris provided two of L-P's five hits on the day. Benckendorf finished 3-for-4, a home run short of the cycle, with Vickers adding a pair of singles from the No. 9 spot.
Streator is scheduled to return to action Thursday with a 4:30 p.m. home date against the Ottawa Pirates.
At SHS Athletic Fields, Streator
Streator 5, La Salle-Peru 0
STREATOR (5) — Phillis cf 3-1-1-0, Benckendorf c 4-1-3-2, Byers ss 3-1-1-1, Grabowski p 3-0-0-1, Sharisky 2b 2-0-0-0, Sember 3b 2-1-0-0, Telford dh 3-0-0-0, Dresbach 1b 3-0-1-1, Vickers lf 3-1-2-0, Cantrell rf 0-0-0-0, Colter cr 0-0-0-0, Bemont p 0-0-0-0. Totals 26-5-8-5.
L-P (0) — Vazquez cf/p 4-0-0-0, Ernat lf 3-0-0-0, Martyn ss 3-0-1-0, Burris dh 3-0-2-0, Wolfe p/cf 3-0-0-0, Dahl 3b 3-0-1-0, Copeland 1b 2-0-0-0, Rodriguez c 2-0-0-0, Lenkaitis rf 1-0-0-0, Mitchell 2b 0-0-0-0, Wagner ph 0-0-0-0, Reese ph 1-0-0-0, Linn ph 1-0-1-0. Totals 26-0-5-0.
Streator (2-0) 102 110 0 — 5 8 2
L-P (1-3) 000 000 0 — 0 5 0
LOB - Streator 5; L-P 8. 2B - Byers, Benckendorf, Dahl. 3B - Benckendorf. SAC - Phillis. SF - Byers, Grabowski. SB - Phillis. CS - none. HBP - Sharisky (by Wolfe), Copeland (by Grabowski).
Streator ip r er h bb k
Grabowski (W, 1-0) 6.0 0 0 4 1 7
Bemont 1.0 0 0 1 1 0
Wolfe (L, 0-3) 3+ 4 4 4 1 4
Vazquez 4.0 1 1 4 0 1
Streator was the visiting team as the game was originally scheduled to be played in Peru.