Steady soph: Nyborg helps lead Craig past Memorial
JANESVILLE--Chase Nyborg needed half a season to settle in with the Janesville Craig High baseball team.
Now that the postseason has arrived, the sophomore left-hander is the Cougars’ most reliable starting pitcher.
Nyborg showed that again Thursday, tossing six scoreless innings to lead Craig to a 9-1 victory over Madison Memorial in a WIAA Division 1 regional final game at Riverside Park.
“It’s just a mental thing, practicing every day to do the little things right,” Nyborg said. “After I get the first pitch in there now, I’m good to go.”
Nyborg isn’t overpowering, but he serves up a steady diet of strikes and doesn’t allow free passes.
He allowed six hits Thursday, striking out two and walking one. Nyborg never faced more than five hitters in any inning.
“He’s figured it out and was solid again today. He was never in big trouble,” Craig coach Vic Herbst said. “A lot of it is just not walking guys. He’s not putting a lot of guys on, and he’s throwing his curveball for a strike.”
Nyborg helped his own cause with a run-scoring sacrifice fly in the second to break the scoreless tie. Madison Memorial appeared to tie the game in the top of the fourth on a triple by Adam Bihun, but a runner attempting to score from first failed to touch third base.
Craig added to its lead in the fourth. Center fielder Wyatt Olson led off with a double to the right-field gap and scored on Nick Blomgren’s single. Courtesy runner Justin Filter stole second, moved up to third on a fielder’s choice and scored when freshman Evan Spry belted a two-out, two-strike single up the middle.
“It’s the same thing if you watch Evan Spry play, too,” Herbst said. “He’s just much more aggressive and is starting to figure out the speed of the game.”
Filter stole two bases and scored twice as a runner and later entered the game to play left field. He singled and scored in his only trip to the plate.
The Cougars made it 5-0 in the fifth, thanks in part to first baseman Kevin Brandt’s RBI single to left. Brandt finished 2-for-3 with three runs driven in.
Craig blew the game open when it batted around in the sixth and scored four more runs. Seven Cougars finished with at least one hit in the game, and six players scored a run.
“That’s huge because you’re not relying on one spot and you’re scoring up and down the lineup,” Herbst said. “We had some big hits today.”
The Cougars will need a few more when they go up against top-seeded Janesville Parker in the sectional semifinals Tuesday at Riverside.
The Vikings swept the Big Eight season series, winning 3-2 in 10 innings in the first game and 9-6 in the second.
“I’d love to play Parker and beat them the third time,” Nyborg said.