Prep Baseball Report

PBR Future Games: Illinois Day 1 Recap

By Andy Sroka
Staff Writer

WESTFIELD, Ind. – Team Wisconsin and Team Illinois played their first game at Grand Park against one another on Thursday afternoon, ending in a 4-4 tie. Both teams got off to bumpy starts on the mound, searching for the strike zone. Illinois had the lead for almost the entire game until Wisconsin’s late charge in the seventh inning tied the game up at four and Team Wisconsin’s RHP Tyler Chadwick (Marshall, 2020) pitched over a self-inflicted precarious situation to allow his team to finish with the tie.

As mentioned earlier, both teams got off to erratic starts from the bump, resulting in some early runs both ways. Wisconsin’s RHP George Klassen (Port Washington, 2020), while wild, still showed why he’s the No. 1 pitching prospect in his state’s class. The velo jump is real and he re-topped his previous high of 91 mph with a 92 mph offering in the game’s first frame – and snapped off a couple sharp 79-80 mph breaking balls, too. A single from OF Connor Milton (Champaign Central, 2020) scratched across Team Illinois’ first run to hand his squad the early lead.

Wisconsin matched Illinois with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning off LHP Noah DeLuga (Lake Zurich, 2020). DeLuga, like Klassen, was wild early but settled in and actually struck out the side. The lefty was 84-86 mph on the day and he worked in his 2/8 curveball as an outpitch, sitting in the low 70s. Wisconsin’s 3B Max Wagner (Green Bay Preble, 2020) has been making waves at Future Games already and he was the one who got his team to capitalize on DeLuga’s early command issues – his hard single to left scored his team’s tying run.

Lack of control from the rubber continued to hurt Wisconsin. A sloppy second inning helped score Team Illinois’ second run to make it 2-1. Meanwhile, Illinois’ arms began to hone in.

Aurora Christian’s ace, Jake Kuntzendorf (2020), stepped up his game on Thursday and looked electric, topping out at 91 mph, comfortably sitting in the upper 80s for the entirety of his one-inning outing, in which he struck out the first two batters he faced.

Yet another Illinois arm looked as imposing as we’ve seen in person and that was RHP Eben Heine (Plainfield North). Heine is having an impressive summer, which says a lot seeing as he entered the summer coming off a State title-clinching save to end his sophomore season. Thursday, he regularly touched his previous high of 88 mph and even dialed it up to 90 mph once. His slider was sharp, too, on an 11/5 plane sitting 72-74 mph.

And then there’s RHP Austin Greco (Mundelein, 2020). He’s working on the secondaries to help his explosive, lively 91 mph fastball. The 91 mph fastballs he threw were a team-high. Greco broke the 90-mph threshold at least five or six times in his inning of work, but is still working on the offspeed and command that’ll help him get outs more easily.

While the aforementioned arms kept Wisconsin off balanced, for the most part, Illinois chipped away and took a 4-1 lead eventually. Still, Team Wisconsin’s arms looked solid. LHP Kaden Krueger (Appleton West, 2020) touched 90 mph once in his outing, and sat 87-89 mph otherwise. The team’s lone 2021, Vincent Trapani (Eau Claire Memorial), worked a 1-2-3 inning and sat 86-88 mph paired with a curveball that flashed some sharp break, in the 70-73 mph range.

Down 4-2 in the seventh, Wisconsin’s C Blake Carey (University School of Milwaukee, 2020) slapped a two-run double down the left field line to tie the game up.

In a position where their best outcome available was a tie, Team Wisconsin marched Chadwick to the mound where he immediately snared the attention of the audience that had gathered around the radar gun. The 6-foot-5 righty fired a heavy 93 mph fastball through the zone and repeated it. Chadwick was nothing but 90-plus for the first six or seven pitches. He fought through some command issues and didn’t display an offspeed offering, but it was still enough to earn his team the 4-4 tie.

If you missed yesterday’s Statistical Analysis of the Future Games workout, CLICK HERE. Keep checking back for a look at Day 1’s Scout Blog later.

A full schedule can be found HERE with pitching rotations HERE.

For a full Illinois Future Games Roster, CLICK HERE; for Wisconsin’s roster, CLICK HERE.