Berg survives scare; Pirates grab number 3 seed
Bay Port’s Jake Berg is recovering after taking a 90-mph fastball off the face May 15 (Rich Palzewic photo).
BY RICH PALZEWIC
SUAMICO – Bay Port baseball player Jake Berg escaped serious injury May 15 in the Pirates’ 5-3 Fox River Classic Conference loss to Green Bay Preble. The sophomore took a blow from a 90-mph Ryan Stefiuk fastball off the face.
Berg was down for several minutes being treated by trainers as a distraught Stefiuk looked on.
It’s hard enough facing a left-handed pitcher who throws that hard, but Berg and Stefiuk are also good friends.
“I play summer ball with Ryan for the GRB Rays,” said Berg, who indicated he turned his head at the last moment to avoid a direct hit. “I know Ryan felt terrible about it, but things like that happen. He’s a pitcher who’s trying to establish the inside of the plate and I’m a hitter who stands his ground.”
The left-handed batting Berg came away from the incident with a split lip, some swelling and a damaged tooth, but no concussion.
“I was conscious through it all,” Berg said. “It was a two-seamer high and inside and it caught me right above the lip and hit my front tooth. I’d say on a scale from 1-10 it was probably a 5 with how it hit me. It wasn’t flush, but it wasn’t a glancing blow, either. It could have been much worse.”
The sophomore Stefiuk, who is a Vanderbilt University recruit, posted a message on Twitter after the game.
“(This is) by far the hardest game I’ve ever played,” the Tweet said. “All my prayers (go) out to (Jake) and his family. Best of luck to (Bay Port baseball) the rest of the way.”
Stefiuk has thrown two career no-hitters despite his youth for the Hornets, who have made state appearances the last two seasons.
Berg missed the Pirates’ game two days later against Green Bay Notre Dame, but played May 18 in the team’s 3-0 win over Sheboygan North. He singled in three plate appearances that game.
“I probably could have played (against Notre Dame) but my mom wanted me to give it another day’s rest,” said Berg. “I wore a facemask, so I felt completely comfortable.”
Berg finished with a .417 average in FRCC play and scored 12 runs, both of which were at or near the top of the 10-team league.
“I expected myself to have a pretty good year, but I’m feeling really good right now,” he said. “I started off a bit slow, so now that I’m hitting better it makes it all that much better.”
Bay Port is the No. 3 seed in the upcoming WIAA D1 regional and will host No. 6 D.C. Everest May 31 at 5:00 pm in the regional finals.
The Pirates have advanced to sectional play an amazing 15 consecutive years.