Baseball: Niles North infielder Schoenberg ships out to Mizzou
Niles North High School's David Schoenberg slides safely back into first base during a regional state playoff baseball game against Evanston High School at Oak Park and River Forest High School in Oak Park, Thursday, May 24, 2012. Evanston won, 9-1. | J.Geil ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 3, 2012 11:56AM
Following a 9-2 loss to Evanston which ended his season, Niles North senior David Schoenberg stood next to the dugout with eye black smeared on his face and a lump in his throat.
The Vikings season ended on an afternoon when they committed seven errors and left 10 runners on base. It was one of the team’s most upsetting defeats of the season, one which left the six-member senior class brutally disappointed.
Although the pain will linger for Niles North’s baseball team, it will eventually fade. The Vikings’ current underclassmen will shift into new roles and start playing summer baseball, while the graduating seniors will be left with new opportunities and the memories accumulated this season.
For Schoenberg, the most memorable game of the Vikings’ 2012 season will always be when they defeated Niles West.
“We were down 1-0. Kevin Ross got to us that first inning, and then I helped my team start a rally,” said Schoenberg, who drove in six runs in the 13-2 blowout of the Wolves on April 30. “I had four RBIs that inning — a single and a 2-RBI double — and came back against Kevin Ross in the next inning and hit another double off him. Six RBIs and it really started a rally for us.”
Building upon its win over Niles West (26-10), Niles North then defeated Glenbrook North, something which the Vikings have struggled to do in recent years.
Niles North coach Ed Toledo can turn to those experiences when he looks for improvement from his returning players.
“Probably the biggest issue (this season) was finding consistency,” Toledo said. “When we were playing well, we were playing pretty well. When we weren’t playing well, it really wasn’t very good. We’re still a young club by all accounts, and I think we can be a very good club. Looking ahead, that’s the goal: to play at a much more consistent level.”
Schoenberg, who primarily started at second base this season, tried to impress upon his teammates the importance of hard work and never giving up.
Although Niles North (16-20) fell behind Evanston 7-0 after two innings, the Vikings lived up to Schoenberg’s expectations. They kept fighting, managed to get runners on base, but couldn’t pull the Oak Park-River Forest regional semifinal closer than the final seven-run margin.
“When you’re down like we were, 9-2, you still don’t give up,” said Schoenberg. “You never know what’s going to happen. Play your (butt) off every time because you never know who’s watching.”
The 5-foot-8 senior infielder will attend the University of Missouri in the fall, and has landed a walk-on tryout for the school’s baseball team.
He hopes the Niles North baseball team will still feel the pride and positive effect he, and the Vikings’ six-member senior class, had this season.
“I was trying to take more of a leadership role. I tried to take charge of this team, tried to be a captain,” Schoenberg said. “Obviously Mo Raja helped me out. We’ve got Elliot (Mark) and (Matt) McTague helping me out, two juniors helping them get ready for next year. These guys were very respectful and we have a good group of guys coming back next year.”