Baseball: Maine South’s Saavedra savors save situations
Park Ridge, 04/14/11--MS's SS Rocky Saavedra shows the umpire the ball as ME's pinch runner Parth Patel gets caught off of 2B. Maine East HS hosted Maine South HS in boys baseball Thursday afternoon. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 29, 2012 8:23AM
Rocky Saavedra misses being a starting pitcher.
The senior also admitted to enjoying his new role as the team’s stopper.
The Maine South coaching staff moved him into the closer’s role midway through the season, and Saavedra’s been as good as any pitcher around in relief.
“I had to switch up my mentality on the mound,” he said. “As a reliever, you sometimes come in with runners on base. I like that pressure, though. This gives me an opportunity to grow as a player.”
Saavedra came into the week 5-0 with four saves and a 0.23 ERA. He’s struck out 36 batters in 31 innings with a WHIP of 0.74. He was scheduled to start Tuesday against Jacobs.
Also the team’s starting shortstop, Saavedra is a big part of Maine South’s success this spring. The Hawks entered Tuesday’s play 25-4 overall and 14-1 in the CSL South following a 7-1 win over Niles West.
The Hawks clinched the conference championship Saturday with a 1-0 win over Glenbrook North. Saavedra scored the game-winning run and pitched two scoreless innings of relief to earn the save.
“I miss starting games, but I am doing fine as a reliever,” said the two-year varsity veteran, who tossed a no-hitter April 17 against Waukegan “Whatever the coaches decide, I will do.”
Saavedra is playing with younger brother Jesus Saavedra for the first time on varsity. Jesus starts at second base for the Hawks.
“We always were on the same team growing up,” said Rocky, who began his career in youth leagues at Chicago’s Horner Park. “He helps me out a lot. He knows how I play, and I know how he plays.”
Maine South bounced back Saturday after losing to Glenbrook South 3-0 to split the two-game series. The defeat ended the Hawks’ 18-game winning streak.
Rocky Saavedra said the loss to the Titans — the team’s first since April 2 — served as a wake-up call.
“When we first lost a game, we lost three in a row,” he said. “We can’t do that again. We will throw this one away and start a new streak.”
Maine South was scheduled to play Jacobs on Tuesday and Niles West on Wednesday, then welcomes Glenbrook North for the CSL championship game at 4:30 p.m. today (Thursday). The Hawks, who earned the No. 1 seed at the Evanston Sectional, start the state playoffs next week at the Maine West Regional.