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Robby Stankus throws Bartlett past Streamwood

Sidewinding senior Robby Stankus was the Swiss army knife of Bartlett’s pitching staff.

That means Stankus has to expect the unexpected without a specific role.

It includes 10 p.m. phone calls from coach Chris Baum before a game, which took place Tuesday.

“I was actually on my way home from the gym when he called,” Stankus said. “I was in my friend’s driveway at 9:49 a.m. and he told me I could start.”

Considering the way things went in Wednesday’s 7-0 Upstate Eight Conference win at Streamwood, Baum is glad he made that call.

Stankus (5-0) got off to the best varsity start of his high school career, throwing a complete-game two-hitter for Bartlett (22-7, 13-3). The Loras recruit struck out seven and walked just one.

Josh Colaizzi went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer for the Hawks. Brandon Pelz and Dylan Tornero each had two RBIs. Austin Paskewic took the loss for Streamwood (13-13, 9-7).

Baum spoke with Stankus before the season about what he envisioned as a role. In short, it’s everything the Hawks need, especially since his sidearm is conductive on ground balls.

if they need a grounder in a tough spot, go to Stankus. Last minute spot start? Call on Stankus.

Bartlett's Josh Colaizzi (27) batted one out during the 6th inning of Wednesday's game at Streamwood, May 8, 2024. Bartlett won the game 7-0.  (Brian O'Mahoney for The Courier-News)
Bartlett’s Josh Colaizzi (27) celebrates a home run against Streamwood during the sixth inning of an Upstate Eight Conference game in Streamwood on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. (Brian O’Mahoney / The Beacon-News)

“He would pretty much be a hybrid,” Baum said. “He does so well with the pitch count and he is so efficient that he is available two to three games a week.

“That has been his greatest strength. He only attacks the strike zone. He’s getting contact early and he’s getting a lot of ground balls. He walked with the role.”

Stankus still has a hip delivery service, but it’s not as busy as in years past. By shortening his stride a bit, he gets more on the ball and avoids some of the inconsistencies he had last spring.

“I think he had too many moving parts,” Baum said of Stankus as a junior. “He condensed it a bit. He walked a little long. His arm was dragging.”

The throw from the plate came too late for Streamwood's Chris Cole (7) to catch Bartlett's Austin Daubenmire (5) at 2nd base during the 3rd inning of Wednesday's game, May 8, 2024. Bartlett won the game 7-0 .  (Brian O'Mahoney for The Courier-News)
Streamwood’s Chris Cole (7) tries to tag Bartlett’s Austin Daubenmire (5) at second base during the third inning of an Upstate Eight Conference game in Streamwood on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. (Brian O’Mahoney / The Beacon-News )

The Hawks gave him a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on Wednesday and Stankus went to work.

A four-run third, highlighted by Colaizzi’s home run, allowed Stankus to get even more comfortable on the mound. He didn’t face more than four batters in any inning, and Streamwood had only one runner reach third base.

“A lot of his stuff ended up back in our hands,” Streamwood coach Dan Jennings said. “We adjusted a little bit, but we couldn’t get it going. He was good. Our first five guys are pretty good.

“When he saws them off, it’s the two-seam spider that ends up on their hands. They don’t stay inside the baseball, and that’s when you get the weak ground balls.”

Stankus actually stumbled upon his unique delivery by accident.

Bartlett's Robby Stankus (16) after Wednesday's match at Streamwood, May 8, 2024. Bartlett won the match 7-0.  (Brian O'Mahoney for The Courier-News)
Bartlett’s Robby Stankus (16) reacts after an Upstate Eight Conference game against host Streamwood on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. (Brian O’Mahoney / The Beacon-News)

He got to Bartlett and threw over the top, but without much speed. While messing around with different arm angles with his pitching coach, he remembered a training video he had seen of former White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito.

“He hid the ball behind him when he threw,” Stankus said. “I just came out with a gun. I threw just two mph softer and I gained four inches of extra spin.

“It just stuck after that.”

And as he has done all season, Stankus delivered what Baum wanted for the big win over Streamwood on Wednesday.

“We wanted to start someone else, but we had to make some changes,” Baum said. ‘He’s efficient. He’s near the zone. That’s exactly when we expect.

“The defense remains active behind him on the mound.”

Paul Johnson is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.