By Tim Penman
As junior pitcher Dylan Mulvihill worked out his arm on the sidelines of practice, he smiled at several Evanston teammates teasing him while flexing their muscles like Randy “Macho Man” Savage.
The hard throwing righty, along with right-handed senior Russell Snapp, leads an impressive Wildkit starting rotation that aims to guide the team one step further than last year’s 4A supersectional berth and into the four-team state tournament.
“[In the postseason] I learned that pitching carries the team,” Mulvihill said. “We are a good one-two punch.”
After setting a school record for postseason victories by winning regional and sectional titles last year, Evanston came within three outs of reaching the tournament before giving up four late inning runs to South Elgin in anguishing fashion.
Although the defeat was a major disappointment, the Wildkits said they can build on the experience they gained from a four-win playoff run.
“Last year shouldn’t be a fluke,” Mulvihill said. “We can be up there with the perennial powerhouses every year.”
Snapp is a finesse pitcher and has been working on adding a changeup to an arsenal that already includes a slider, curve, and fastball, he said. He hopes adding the pitch will help him achieve his goal of beating the school win record of 11, a feat he came within two games of last season, going 9-3.
“Last year [Snapp] was dominant,” said Evanston coach Frank Consiglio. “He’s very even keeled, does what he needs to do and just beats people.”
Mulvihill relies on his fastball more and said the past summer was a turning point because he had a growth spurt that helped him add six miles per hour to his fastball. His fastball now tops out at 88 mph.
“[Snapp] and I are different types of pitchers,” Mulvihill said. “He isn’t overpowering, while I’m going to try and use my strength to my advantage.”
Evanston is now 9-2-1 and are coming off a 10-0 victory over John F. Kennedy on Tuesday.
Consiglio said he admires Mulvihill’s work ethic and loves the fact that he is a two-sport athlete who started in about a third of Evanston’s basketball games last season.
“Generally our multi-sport guys are more dynamic,” Consiglio said. “They have better instincts. We really like that because we like guys who can play multiple positions.”
While Evanston lost its best offensive player, Eli Otting, last year to graduation, their pitching and defense remains reliable, according to Consiglio. Following Snapp and Mulvihill are starters James Allen and Zach Anderson.
“We have very high expectations,” Consiglio said. “We are strong where we need to be strong.”
To cope with an offensive lineup that will likely be weaker, Consiglio said his team will look to be more aggressive on the base paths while waiting for timely hits and momentum created from pitchers like Snapp and Mulvihill.
“I don’t know if it’s too early to say, but I think [Mulvihill] is going Division I,” Snapp said. “I think we both have strengths in different areas so teams that see us in back-to-back games don’t know how to handle it.”
That confidence has rubbed off on Mulvihill.
“Teams are going to have to fight against [Snapp] and then fight against me,” Mulvihill said. “It should be tough for them to take us both.”