ETHS baseball: Vega celebrates 16th birthday with shutout win

Eron Vega celebrated his 16th birthday Wednesday and received the best present any pitcher could get.

The Evanston sophomore found another pitch for his arsenal.

Vega utilized a two-seam fastball he “discovered” in a bullpen session a couple of days ago and combined with Owen Brooks for a one-hit shutout as the Wildkits blanked Leyden 7-0 in an Illinois High School Association Class 4A regional baseball tournament game hero at Northwestern University. Alex Vasquez drove in five runs to help ETHS improve to 20-9 on the season.

With the win, Evanston advances to the championship game of the ETHS Regional against either Prospect or Von Steuben. That title game is set for 11 am Saturday at a site still to be determined because of anticipated wet weather.

Vega, a sophomore right-hander, struck out a career-high 10 batters in the first five innings, then returned to the mound following a 40-minute delay due to nearby lightning sightings and hurled another scoreless inning before letting Brooks mop up.

Vega, now 3-2 on the season with an earned run average of 2.60, lived up to the faith head coach Frank Consiglio showed in awarding him the postseason start instead of staff ace Hank Liss. Liss will likely get the call on Saturday.

“He’s the same kid every time he takes the mound with the way he pounds the strike zone. You always know what you’re going to get from Eron, and the worst possible thing you can get in the playoffs is a surprise,” Consiglio explained.

“What he did today is a credit to how you never stop working. He threw a bullpen session on Monday and when we looked at the movement on his slider and his [four-seam] fastball, we said let’s try a two-seam fastball that will come out of the same tunnel. I loved the movement I saw, and he was able to control it. So today we watched to make sure he had the feel of it, and he was able to use it as a put-away pitch to get a lot of those strikeouts.”

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