C.J. Duffek had a day to remember last week. After signing a letter of intent to play college baseball at Northwest Missouri State, the Riverside-Brookfield High School senior celebrated by tossing a complete game five-hitter with six strikeouts as the Bulldogs bested St. Patrick on April 15.
The versatile Duffek, who typically starts in the outfield, also starred offensively, going 3-for-3 with two runs scored and a stolen base.
“Coach [Mark] Ruge and I hemmed and hawed a lot about who should pitch against St. Patrick,” RB head coach Dallas Till said. “We asked C.J. if he could give us a spot start and work three or four innings, and he said, ‘Absolutely.’ Instead, he gave us seven [innings] and threw a tremendous game; it was just a great day for him all around.”
Catcher Alex Spirios (2-for-3, RBI) also led the Bulldogs, who had nine hits on the afternoon.
In Metro Suburban Conference action last week, RBHS (14-1-1, 4-0) blanked Ridgewood 6-0 as Kevin Garvey also threw a complete game gem for the Bulldogs. Garvey (3-0, 3.00 ERA), who had not thrown in over a week due to arm trouble, scattered four hits and fanned four in an encouraging performance.
“Kevin located his fastball and got ahead of the hitters,” Till said. “He pitched a great game, and we didn’t see any setbacks with his arm.”
Duffek (2-for-4, RBI), Will Kincanon (2-for-4, double), Spirios (2-for-3, RBI) and Joe Duffy (2-for-3, two runs) paced the Bulldogs’ 11-hit attack
Blessed with solid depth and versatility, particularly in the pitching rotation, RBHS has established a formula for success, featuring ample offensive punch, quality pitching, and, perhaps most importantly, a collective maturation among the players.
While standouts like Duffek, Kincanon and Alex Nenadovic often take center stage, Spirios (.385, 12 RBI) has also fueled the Bulldogs’ run of excellence this spring.
“I can’t say enough good things about Alex,” Till said. “He’s an emotional player, a leader and a great kid. Between playing anywhere from 35 to 38 games, hitting in the middle of our lineup and interacting with all our different pitchers, Alex has a tough job and he handles it well.”
Kincanon also offers high praise for his primary backstop.
“Alex is playing the best baseball I’ve seen him play over the last two years,” the Bulldogs’ pitching ace said. “He knows what [our pitchers] want to throw. He’s also moving around behind the plate, throwing out runners and swinging a good bat.”
Hard work and a few adjustments have paved the way for Spirios’ stellar senior campaign.
“During the offseason, I worked mainly on my catching,” Spirios said. “As a hitter, I’ve made a few changes, opening up a bit and dropping my hands. I’m trying to make more contact with a shorter swing, whereas last season I was more of a power hitter.
“I think we can go pretty far in conference and hopefully make a deep run in the playoffs.”
When Spirios does get an occasional well deserved day off, reserve catcher Justin Agne (.400) has filled in admirably.