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COD Baseball Sweeps Sauk Valley on Sophomore Day

In their final regular season home games, the Chaparrals recognized their sophomores and picked up two more wins.
Rachel Wagner

The College of DuPage baseball team celebrated their sophomore day on May 4 in their final home games of the regular season against Sauk Valley Community College. After splitting a doubleheader in the Skyhawks’ domain in April, the Chaparrals reigned supreme on both sides of the ball.

COD beat Sauk Valley in game one 11-1 in six innings with offensive consistency, and completed the sweep 9-8 with clutch defense. With these two wins, the Chaps ended their regular season on a 10-game winning streak with a 26-16 record.

“You always love to end the season on a positive note,” assistant coach Matt Gould said. “All of these games matter in terms of us getting to host this regional. Every game is just as important as the last. [Sauk Valley] is a scrappy team, and this was a good way to end the season. They wanted it just as badly as we did. This was a playoff atmosphere, and it’s good that we got some reps in an atmosphere like that.”

Sophomore utility Quinn Flanagan scoops the ball to make a play. (Rachel Wagner)

Gould emphasized the importance of the team to him after stepping into the role of head coach, but he said this group of sophomores will always be special. Gould took over the team last month after former head coach Bobby Wilson was placed on leave in early March and fired in late April. College officials have neither recognized Wilson’s departure publicly nor offered any explanation for his termination.

“As a first-timer doing the head coaching job, I feel that way about all of the players,” he said. “It was unusual circumstances how I ended up here, but I appreciate all of these boys. The sophomores were my first group of kids to coach ever at the college level. So to see how far they’ve come is something I’ve been able to appreciate long before sophomore day. It’ll be sad when it’s time to say our goodbyes, but we’re not there yet.”

Sophomore catcher Filip Milatovic once again led the Chaps on offense, crushing a three-run home run, his fifth of the season, over the center field wall in the second game. Milatovic swatted four hits and struck out once in eight total at-bats. He also scored four runs and recorded seven RBIs on the day. He acknowledged the freshmen on the team who helped get the two victories, and he looks forward to the possibility of hosting the Region 4 tournament.

“I’m playing with my buddies here,” Milatovic said. “The freshmen came in and stepped up big. We have a lot of freshmen, and the sophomores are trying to set a good example. It was awesome. When you’re playing with your best friends, you can’t complain. We might get to host the regional [tournament], and we’ve just got to keep it going one game at a time now.”

Freshman infielder Vinny Spotofora also reinforced COD’s offense after sending his second home run of the season over right-center field. He collected two runs and six RBIs through both games. In eight total at-bats, he notched five hits and struck out once. He said finishing the season on a 10-game heater gives the Chaps confidence going into the playoffs.

“It helps us know that we can do this,” Spotofora said. “We need to not get complacent and just find ways to win in the playoffs. That’s what this is all about. Nothing else matters.”

Freshman pitcher Eddie Scaccia made his seventh start of the season, pitching through game one. He threw eight strikeouts and two walks through six innings. The Skyhawks’ lone run was a home run, and Scaccia allowed five hits. He said he was happy to help COD sweep Sauk Valley on sophomore day to build momentum going into the postseason.

“It was nice to win for them,” Scaccia said. “They do a lot for us and have done a lot for the program. It was good to come out here and win two games, and we’ll just keep building off of it.”

The second game featured five pitchers from COD’s bullpen, but sophomore pitcher Connor Chapulis picked up the win in his sixth appearance of the season. He pitched through three innings and threw three strikeouts. He allowed six hits and three runs, including one home run, but he said earning the win meant a lot after pitching in the team’s loss against the Skyhawks earlier in the season.

“For me, it felt really good to beat them,” Chapulis said. “Earlier in the year they walked us off, and I had been in that game. It was a good get-back. I was happy to come in and do my job for the guys to keep us in it.”

Sophomore catcher Filip Milatovic celebrates with the team after hitting his fifth home run of the season. (Rachel Wagner)

Sophomore pitcher Ryne Willard closed the second game for the Chaparrals in his first game back after sustaining a groin injury in the team’s last meeting with Joliet Junior College. He pitched through the seventh inning and allowed two hits, one of which resulted in a home run, before striking out Sauk Valley’s final batter. He said COD’s defense made his return to the mound easier.

“The home run on my first pitch coming back was a wakeup call,” Willard said. “After that, I dialed in. I know this defense, and I’ll trust this defense against any team in the country. I just know that if I let [a batter] hit it, then [our defense] is going to play it. It’s been two crazy years here, but I wouldn’t want to be here with anyone else. It’s been fun the whole time, and I’m glad we got to end [the season] in a good way.”

Gould sees the playoffs as the beginning rather than the end.

“The heater is now at zero,” he said. “Nothing that we’ve done at this point matters anymore. It was a nice way to end the year, and it’s a feather in their caps. If it helped us host some games, then that’s even better. The real work begins now.”

The Chaparrals meet the Oakton College Owls in the first game of the NJCAA Region 4 Tournament at 3 p.m. on May 10 at the COD Baseball Field.

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