Always a Panther : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Always a Panther|
|Oswego baseball program retires No. 2 in honor of Lederman|
|by Christine Bolin Dascher|
Ten minutes before the Oswego and Oswego East faced off in a baseball doubleheader last Wednesday, the rivalry was put aside to honor Eric Lederman, a 12-year-old Oswego native who died tragically in April while playing baseball.
Lederman, a sixth grader at Thompson Junior High and member of the 12U Orange travel team for the Oswego Baseball Softball Association (OBSA), was struck by a baseball while on the sidelines during a game in Wheaton on April 11. He died the next day of a cerebral hemorrhage due to blunt trauma to the head.
To honor Lederman, the Oswego baseball team retired the No. 2 uniform - the number Lederman wore - and will never use it again. Seven different Panther jerseys with his number were presented to Eric's family before the first game between the Panthers and Wolves at Jackie's Field of Dreams.
Oswego head coach Chris Neitzel coordinated the dedication. It was held at Oswego High School - Lederman's future school where his older sister, Morgan (Class of 2010) attended, and brother Daniel will be an incoming junior.
"(The dedication) was wonderful, it really was," said Cheryle Lederman, who had several other family members and friends with her to honor her son. "It was very touching to us that they are going to have Eric a future Panther. It was very sweet.
"It's been a struggle. One day at a time, I guess. Obviously, we miss him everyday, but we have a lot of family support and good friends who were here today."
Both sides agreed this was a great way and chance to come together for a good cause.
"Our kids were very affected when it happened," Neitzel said. "It really shook our team. The kids really took it hard, so we wanted to do anything we possibly could, so we dedicated No. 2 in his honor. I thought it went well. It was the least we could do. I wish we could have done more."
"Just to have something meaningful for the family and knowing they have our support on both sides, I think it was a great gesture," Oswego East head coach Bobby Kaminski added. "I hope we can do anything as a program to help them move forward with anything they need."
After the dedication, Oswego faced Oswego East in summer ball and the Panthers won the opening game, 4-2. In Game 2, the Wolves beat the Panthers, 2-1. Both games were completed in five innings.
This was the final game of the summer season for Oswego, which ended up 9-5 overall.
The Wolves are 10-4-1 with less than two weeks left in the season before the IHSBCA Tournament begins the week of July 16.
In Game 1, all Oswego needed was one big inning to get the job done. That arrived in the third, when the Panthers used three hits to get all four runs needed to win the game.
The scoring started when leadoff man and senior Brendon O'Dea singled with one out. After he stole second, he moved to third on junior Mitch Wilson's fielder's choice (pinch runner Brad Whowell was out at home; he was running for Al Pool, who led the inning off by reaching base on an Oswego East error).
O'Dea and Wilson scored when the next batter, senior catcher Jose Camacho, hit a 2 RBI double to center field. The next batter, senior Nick Boers, drew a walk. Camacho's pinch runner, Mark Couch, reached home when senior Nick Wernke hit an RBI single that allowed Boers to move to third. Boers scored the fourth run on a wild pitch.
"The couple of plays we didn't make will make one bad inning," Kaminski said. "Aside from that, I thought we played pretty sound baseball."
Oswego East scored first in the second, when senior Jordan Sullivan singled with one out.
His pinch runner, Mike Mackey, moved to second on a wild pitch, got to third on senior Sean Kennedy's ground out and scored when senior pitcher David Schurr reached base on an error.
In the top of the fourth, senior Gunnar Mlsna led off with a double, got to third when Sullivan reached on an error and scored on Schurr's ground out RBI.
The Wolves finished with five hits. Oswego ended up with four hits off Schurr, who finished with four strikeouts and three walks.
"(Schurr) is one of the better pitchers in the (Southwest Prairie) Conference, so I was happy to see the way our kids battled against him," Neitzel said of Oswego East's only All-Conference selection this past spring. "We had some really quality at-bats, so I was really happy with that."
Senior Adam Beyer earned the win on the mound for Oswego while junior Alex Compton earned the save.
Compton was Oswego's starting pitcher for Game 2. He took the loss after he gave up two runs, two hits, two walks and three strikeouts in the three innings he pitched. Israel Ortiz came in the final two innings and gave up just one hit.
Oswego East scored its first run in the first. With two outs, Mlsna drew a walk. His pinch runner, J.T. Schurr, a sophomore, stole second and scored on junior Isaiah Spencer's RBI single.
The Wolves scored again in the third, when senior short stop Chris Cooper singled with one out. He stole second and reached third on an error.
He scored on another error by the Panthers.
Oswego East had a 2-0 lead before Oswego scored its lone run of the game. Whowell led the third inning off with a double, was pushed to second on a single from junior Trevor Matczak and scored on Couch's sacrifice bunt.
Mlsna got the win on the mound for Oswego East after he gave up four hits and four strikeouts in the complete game.
"Gunnar pitched his butt off, plus we made some plays behind him," Kaminski said. "That usually leads to a victory."
"I've gotten a lot of opportunities so far this summer, so I just wanted to capitalize on that," Mlsna added. "Plus, it's Oswego. I just wanted to throw strikes."
Both teams ended up each finishing with eight hits in both games combined.
"I thought we played pretty solid in both games," Neitzel added. "In Game 2, we were right there. I was happy with the way we played."
Oswego played just 14 games this summer and chose not to be a part of the playoffs. More were originally scheduled, but several games were canceled because of lack of players and/or unfavorable weather conditions. Still, the Panthers managed a seven-game winning streak during the summer and leave feeling good about next spring.
"We struggled offensively at times, but we came together at the end," O'Dea said. "I think we are going to be OK next year."
As for the Wolves, they are scheduled to play at Bolingbrook today, Thursday, at 3 p.m. for a doubleheader.
On Tuesday, they will host Plainfield South in a doubleheader that begins at 3 p.m.
"We just want to keep playing good baseball and get as many chances in for the kids as we can before the playoffs, and then see what we can do in the playoffs," Kaminski said.