When things are going well for the Glenbrook North baseball team, senior-to-be second baseman Sage Bruhl said an aura envelops the dugout. Teammates cheer for each other, everyone’s into the game and guys are loose.
“When everyone’s confident and everyone’s clicking, there’s kind of that idea that it’s impossible to fail,” Bruhl said.
The Spartans experienced the aura a lot this summer. Glenbrook North finished its summer schedule 18-10, going all the way to the summer season state tournament in the Phil Lawler Summer Classic. They lost their only two games, falling 4-3 to Nazareth and 5-0 to Prospect last week.
The good record and the good dugout vibes were due in part to an emphasis on team play. Before the summer season began, coach Dominic Savino told his players they needed to focus on the team, and not individual success.
“The thing we always talk about is, no one will ever remember anything that you do at the program other than the team’s success that you experience,” Savino said. “You can have the greatest individual year you want, but if the team struggles no one’s going to remember that.”
The Spartans bunted and stole bases, things that don’t pop on the stats sheet but help the club grind out victories. They did whatever they could to make the team better. For example, junior pitcher Michael Oh used the full-pivot hitting technique during a game, where he stepped and pivoted his foot before the pitcher threw the ball. It may have looked goofy, but it paid off with a multi-hit game for him.
At the Phil Lawler Classic, Glenbrook North was without six starters due to a football camp, so bench players filled out the lineup. Others stepped up. Senior pitcher Peter Koulogeorge said he was impressed by senior outfielder Justin Tucker at the state tournament. Tucker didn’t start much during the varsity season, but at the Phil Lawler Classic he played with relentless energy.
The team will have to balance individual and team achievement. Five returners made the 2014 Pioneer Press All-Area honorable mention team, and five players played in the Stevenson Showcase, a St. Charles baseball exhibition for college recruiters. Team play, though, will lead to individual success.
“Once everyone got into the team mentality, we started playing better individually,” Koulogeorge said. “It was, ‘I’m going to do whatever I can do to help the team,’ and good things just started happening. It was less about sacrifices and more about switching the mentality and really driving yourself for a different goal.”