Nothing like a double play to calm some first varsity start nervousness for Conant junior Derek Wojcik.
Second baseman Bobby Colucci and shortstop Bill Charvat ended the first inning uneventfully for Wojcik on Tuesday afternoon.
And the right-handed Wojcik nearly finished with a shutout in a 6-3 Mid-Suburban West baseball win over visiting Palatine in Hoffman Estates.
"Coming out of school I had a few jitters," said Wojcik, who had pitched 3 innings in 2 relief appearances. "Once I got out here the defense started making plays and I settled down."
Conant (3-3, 2-1) made all the plays behind Wojcik as he was an out away from a shutout. He mixed a fastball and curveball to scatter 7 hits and had 6 strikeouts.
Two 2 of his 4 walks came after he struck out the first two Palatine (2-11, 1-2) hitters in the seventh.
"This stud pitcher was mowing 'em down," Conant third baseman Jeff Vercillo said with a smile of Wojcik.
"Definitely a good sign," said Conant coach Jerry Song after his No. 4 starter threw 61 strikes in 105 pitches.
"I was impressed with the young man who threw," said Palatine coach Paul Belo. "He kept the ball down in the zone and used his off-speed pitches wisely."
Palatine senior righty Steve Reis also allowed only 7 hits and 2 earned runs in 5 innings. But 3 errors opened the door for a 5-run third.
After the first run scored when Colucci reached on a miscue, Vercillo lined a 2-2 pitch to center for an RBI single and Charvat lined a slicing 2-run double to left-center.
"I was still looking for the fastball but I thought he might go with a curve and he did," said Vercillo, who struck out on a 3-2 curve his first at-bat. "I stayed back and went up the box. I was a little more confident my second at-bat."
Wojcik's single led to Conant's final run on Colucci's two-out single in the fourth.
An RBI double by Jeff Emerich and a 2-run single by Myles Sylverne spoiled Wojcik's shutout bid. But a strikeout capped a big day.
"It kind of got to my head and I got a little overconfident," Wojcik said of a possible shutout. "I reminded myself to throw strikes and let my defense do the rest."
Wheeling 6, BG 5: Steve Slussar pitched his second complete-game victory and homered as Wheeling (2-3, 2-1) hung on in the MSL East to surpass its league win total of last season.
Slussar took a 5-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth and allowed 9 hits with 9 strikeouts. Sayer Jackson went 2-for-3 for the Wildcats, who jumped to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first.
Bobby Beelen added a big RBI in the seventh with a two-out, two-strike single after Tony Brzezniak doubled to put the Wildcats up 6-3. Slussar left runners at second and third for the victory.
Evan Kander and Matt Stadler went 2-for-4 with doubles for BG (3-3, 1-2).
Elk Grove 11, Meadows 6: Matt Martinski's 2-run homer keyed a 7-run sixth and an Elk Grove (3-7, 1-2) comeback from a 5-1 deficit after 4½ innings in the MSL East.
Kevin Miller also homered and had a tying sacrifice fly in the sixth and Chris D'Angelo had an RBI double in the sixth. Kevin Serna homered for Meadows (2-4, 1-2).
St. Viator 6, Nazareth 3: The second trip in two days to Nazareth wasn't looking good through 2½ innings for St. Viator.
But a bases-loaded triple by Sean Folan (3-for-3) capped a 5-run third. Starter Mike Bordes pitched a shutout the rest of the way for the Lions (8-3, 1-1) in the East Suburban Catholic Conference victory.
Bordes had only 1 strikeout but gave up only 2 walks and 5 hits and 2 earned runs. Brett Kay went 2-for-4.
Leyden 4, Addison Trail 3: Leyden (6-1, 3-1) had the comeback magic working again as Joe Natale hit a game-winning 2-run double with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the seventh of the West Suburban Gold game.
Jack Townley's second double started the rally. Jonathan Weaver, who got the victory with 7 strikeouts in 2½ innings, got an infield single and stole second.
After an intentional walk, Natale came through with his second hit. Townley was 3-for-4.
Schaumburg 16, Lake Park 9: Schaumburg (6-1) had a blast in its first game or practice on its home field.
Senior catcher Dominick D'Agata (3-for-4) homered twice and had 4 RBI and Kyle Pusateri (2-for-4) and Matt Mistrata (3-for-4) homered as the Saxons scored in every inning and had 17 hits.
Alec Fontanez was 2-for-4 with a double and 2 RBI.