Doing what's necessary: Crown Point's Santaguida adjusting to his 'new normal'
Updated: Apr 20, 2022
CROWN POINT -- Pitching is all about adjustments.
So while Eric Santaguida works to rediscover the life on his fastball, the lingering effects of a shoulder issue, the Crown Point senior finds other ways to get hitters out.
"It's kind of just how I started the season," Santaguida said. "Nothing's going to get worse. It's just being able to work with what I've got, mainly the ability to adapt to what the new normal is going to be for me. It also helps with mental toughness, just go out there and basically re-learn things, focusing on trying to get different muscles activated that I've never used before. If I was using what was up here before, now I'm using what's down here. (The velocity will) go up naturally. That's what I'm expecting it to do."
Santaguida limited La Porte (7-2, 3-2) to two hits over five innings Tuesday and a five-run fifth that included his go-ahead single, earned him the victory as the Bulldogs downed the Slicers 6-2 in the Duneland Conference.
"He's starting to find his way back," CP coach Steve Strayer said. "This is his first significant pitch count. We're trying to find out what he can do, get his arm stronger. That's why we're taking him slow. His fastball wasn't overwhelming, but he located it. He was locating his off-speed pitches. He threw his changeup pretty well."
Rather than dominate the Slicers, Santaguida frustrated them, inducing groundballs and weak contact.
"It was nice being able to pitch five innings," he said. "It's just strategy now. I throw two pitches, now what do I think? I can't just blow it right by them. I really rely a lot on location. My high fastball, I know I got a lot of them off that. I have sinker, sinker, then I go up right after that. My fastball moves a lot. It's very heavy. It drops a lot. That's why I get a lot of ground balls."
La Porte's only run came on a Caeden George single to center in the third.
"Lazy ground balls, popups," Slicers coach Scott Upp said. "We didn't strike out much, but we didn't square anything up like we have been."
Cam Worthington eluded threats in three of the first four innings, stranding two each time, and despite the absence of runs, Strayer was encouraged by what he was seeing.
"I really liked our approach offensively," he said. "Worthington's a good pitcher, too. Even though we didn't get any runs the first four innings, we had our noses in there, we were battling. Defensively, we got after it, like, hit it to me, I'm going to make the play. We haven't had that consistently. I just knew, with that attitude, that demeanor, it was like, there's no way we're going to get beat, we have some potential to be pretty decent. We'll find out if we can back it up."
In the fifth, the figurative body shots began to pay off. Chris Bachman flared a double to left to tie the game and scored when Santaguida singled to right. Gabe Stout smoked a double to deep center and Santaguida came home as the relay throw got away. CJ Hardy pushed the margin to four with a two-out liner of short to plate two.
"They did a good job swinging the bats, battling against (Worthington)," Upp said. "They were patient. They didn't go out of the strike zone much. They had some big hits. Two outs, second and third, two strikes. We made some mistakes. We didn't pick up the ball a couple times, we made an overthrow with our cutoff man and they took an extra base. We've got to catch the ball and throw the ball."
Santaguida sliced a single to left in the sixth to cap a 4-for-4 day as CP (7-4, 3-2) added another run on a bases-loaded walk to Matt Corona.
"It's like my pitching, just find a way to get the job done," Santaguida said. "It's not home run derby or throw 90 (miles per hour) every time. That's all I can really ask for. I'm just looking to get something on the barrel."
Though he wasn't ringing line drives all over the yard, three of the hits came with two strikes.
"He's been hitting the ball well, smoking the ball," Strayer said. "He gets down in the count, he puts it in play to get on base."
Chris Bachman worked the last two innings for CP, allowing a run.
Crown Point coach Steve Strayer talks to Chris Bachman during Friday's Duneland Conference game against La Porte. The Bulldogs won 6-2. Photo by Angie Anglin