Prep Baseball Report

PBR Illinois Diamond Notes: Week 5

By Andy Sroka
Illinois and Wisconsin Assistant Director

Each week, IHSA coaches around the state submit to us their nominations for the PBR Illinois Player of the Week honor. On Wednesday, we awarded the Week 5 POTW honor to RHP/INF Owen Murphy (Riverside-Brookfield, 2022; Notre Dame commit), who struck out 26 batters in 11 innings last week, and he added nine hits from the dish, four of which went for extra bases.

There were a number of other impressive performances that were in the mix for the award and deserve recognition. Here’s a look at some of the most notable.


Jake Munroe INF / Champaign Central, IL / 2022

Munroe has been critical to the Maroons’ season so far, and both he and Champaign Central were busy in Week 5, which made for a highly productive week for the uncommitted junior. The Maroons went 7-1 from May 8 through 15, and Munroe collected 15 hits in those eight games combined, a hot streak that also earned him three intentional walks. He came into the May 15 doubleheader with Hoopeston seeing the ball well, obviously, but he recorded a perfect 6-for-6 day in those two games and he slugged three homers in the first game, tying a school record, all while driving in seven runs. He drove in another three runs in game two and scored four times himself.

Javier Beal INF / Harrisburg, IL / 2021

Beal narrowly missed out on this week’s honor, as he energized undefeated Harrisburg offensively by going 12-for-14 in Week 5. He also earned six walks and stole six bases to help him generate 15 runs scored in the week, and Beal drove in nine runs aided by two doubles and two home runs, further establishing himself as a POTW nominee. This line might’ve captured the award in most other weeks, but the Parkland JC commit is still deserving of some serious praise for this performance.

Julius Sanchez RHP / LaSalle-Peru, IL / 2022

Sanchez is one of the top-ranked juniors in the state and he’s pitching like it, too. This spring, for LaSalle-Peru, Sanchez is averaging two Ks an inning, as he entered Week 6 play with 42 punch-outs in 21 innings. In his lone Week 5 start, he struck out 10 in six innings pitched to keep up his impressive start.

Roger Simon OF / RHP / Loyola Academy, IL / 2022

Simon has been one of the Ramblers’ best all-around players this season, on both sides of the ball. He hit for the cycle on May 15 against Marmion, in a 4-for-5 effort that helped him drive in five runs, and he pitched against the Cadets earlier in the week and struck out six in three innings. On the season, entering Week 6, Simon had not yet allowed an earned run this season, with 18 Ks in 11.2 innings, and he’d also opened the week with a .400 batting average in Chicago Catholic League action.

Gavin Schmitt RHP / Plainfield East, IL / 2021

The latest Plainfield East product headed to the Illini, Schmitt will graduate having made some history in his senior spring. In his start on May 11, he struck out 16 batters in a seven innings, which set a program record. He had recorded 46 strikeouts in 23 innings as he entered Week 6 play.

Wes Hunt RHP / OF / Peoria Christian, IL / 2022

Hunt has been one excellent this spring for Peoria Chrisitan, and his outing in Week 5 against Farmington was only the latest example of this. Hunt punched out nine in 5.2 innings without allowing a wal or earned run. The 6-foot-7 right-hander also went 3-for-3 in that ballgame, finishing a homer shy of the cycle. He’s allowed just three earned runs in 17.1 innings this season.

Nicholas Kolze 1B / RHP / Romeoville, IL / 2022

Kolze tallied a clutch five hits last week, two of which were go-ahead home runs, a three-run homer in a win over Plainfield Central, and grand slam in a win over West Aurora. In that Central win, Kolze also K’d five batters in four innings which brought his season totals to 34 Ks in 27 innings at the time, with a 1.30 ERA headed into Week 6.

Nick Barlow RHP / Normal West, IL / 2021

From May 8 through 15, Barlow made three starts for Normal West, and he won all three, against opponents Champaign Centennial, Peoria Notre Dame, and Moline. Barlow struck out 17 in 15 innings, walked only three, and limited opposing hitters to 11 hits and one earned run. Barlow’s 5-0 this spring with two saves and an impressive 1.75 ERA, entering Week 6.

+ RHP/INF Michael Person, Burlington Central, 2024: The Rockets’ freshman pitcher has been highly effective recently and looks like he’s deserving a closer look this spring and/or summer. In Week 5, Person threw a no-hitter against Crystal Lake Central in a 6-1 win, and he K’d eight in the process. Entering Week 6, Person’s only loss came against top-ranked Huntley, and he had struck out 37 batters in 25 innings, though he’s fresh off a stellar outing on Wednesday, in which he pitched another scoreless 7.2 innings against ranked Jacobs.

+ RHP Liam Zidar, Loyola Academy, 2022: Zidar has been tasked with starting against some of the most talented lineups in the state this spring, and he’s limited the likes of St. Rita, Providence Catholic, and Brother Rice to just one earned run combined in those 11.1 innings. Last week, Zidar started and completed a shutout against Brother Rice, limiting the Crusaders to just five hits, two walks.