Baseball eliminated from IHSA State Playoffs in first round


Jake Pfeiffer

Senior center fielder Clay Schrader hits a fly out into left field. The out was both the last of Central’s 4-1 loss to Plainfield East and of the Redhawks season.

Jake Pfeiffer, News Editor & Copy Editor

Central’s varsity baseball team was eliminated from the IHSA State Playoffs in the first round of their regional, losing 4-1 to Plainfield East High School on May 24.

Central was seeded second in their sectional and first in their regional, while Plainfield East was seeded 16th in the sectional and fourth in the regional. This was the Redhawks third consecutive early exit from the IHSA postseason, despite consistently being seeded as one of the top teams in their sectional.

The team was without three multi-year varsity players: regular starters senior shortstop Pambos Nicoloudes and senior outfielder Nathan Wyllie were out of the lineup, while senior pitcher Chris McCormack was seen wearing a cast on his hand in the dugout.

“Situations outside of baseball meant that three of our starters and [one of our] best pitchers were unable to play, [and] it had a huge impact,” head coach Mike Stock said. “We preach that we’re going to get a figurative curveball thrown at us all time. We’ve got to prepare for it. We’ve got to deal with it. This was a pretty heavy curveball, in a short period of time. And because of that, it was [more than just missing three players]. There’s a lot of emotion spent. At the same time, not one kid was out there on the diamond not trying.”

The Redhawks’ lone run of the game was driven in by senior catcher Colin Barczi, who hit a sacrifice fly in the third inning to score sophomore shortstop Gavin Wade.

“Offensively, we just need to compete better,” Barczi said. “They had a great guy on the mound, but we needed to get together more hits, drive in more runs and do the little things.”

Barczi later stepped up to bat in the bottom of the seventh inning with two runners on, representing the tying run. Promptly, he drove a ball deep into left field.

“We’re down by three in the bottom of the seventh, and I think Colin hits a homerun,” Stock said. “That’s the least surprising thing I would have seen all year, because that’s what this kid does. We spent the last three years watching him do things that I’ve never seen a high school baseball player do. I do believe nine days out of 10 when the wind is not blowing that thing lands right over [the fence].”

Instead, the ball was caught just feet in front of the outfield fence by Plainfield East’s left fielder, and two batters later, senior center fielder Clay Schrader flew out to end Central’s season.

“We’ve worked so hard all year, and for it to end this abruptly, obviously it hurts,” Barczi said.

The Redhawks’ held a 1-0 lead until the sixth inning, when junior starting pitcher Michael Umbright allowed his only two runs of the day. Senior reliever Michael Boyce allowed two more runs in the seventh inning. 

“They scored two runs without a ball leaving the infield and we didn’t, you know, and that was really it,” Stock said.

The Redhawks finished 23-9 on the season. They are set to lose 14 seniors, including Barczi, a two-time DuPage Valley Conference (DVC) Player of the Year, Gabe Dickerson, 2023 DVC Co-Pitcher of the Year, and three more DVC All Conference Players: Andrew Gallegos, Chris McCormack and Pambos Nicoloudes.

“This group of guys is so talented,” Barczi said. “All of them are going to do great things. It hurts right now, but we’re all happy that [the season] happened, that we could’ve played together.”