John Kwiatkowski of Kellenberg gets full extension on his swing...

John Kwiatkowski of Kellenberg gets full extension on his swing during a CHSAA baseball game against St. Dominic at Eisenhower Park on Saturday, May 22, 2021. Credit: Peter Frutkoff

As baseball nicknames go, John Kwiatkowski of Kellenberg has been saddled with one of the worst. The 6-6 junior first baseman goes through the season with the moniker "Big K." And no batter wants anything to do with a ‘K."

If anything, however, it is a misnomer.

Kwiatkowski’s long solo home run to right center in the fifth inning proved the difference between the Firebirds and St. Dominic’s in the first game of their doubleheader Saturday at Eisenhower Park in a 5-4 Kellenberg win. The Firebirds rode that momentum to a four-run first inning in the second game and rolled behind the complete-game pitching of sophomore Andrew Koshy to a 6-1 victory for the sweep.

It was a big bounce back for Kellenberg, which opened its season with an eight-game winning streak before the Bayhawks halted it on Wednesday with some clutch hitting and the help of half a dozen Firebird errors. Kellenberg (10-1) is back on a winning streak going into is final regular season series with second-place Chaminade this coming week.

"The best part of this is the way we came back out of a loss," said closer Brendan McCann. "We got right back on track. That says a little about what this team is made of."

"What we hoped for was for them to keep an aggressive approach and learn from their mistakes in that (loss)," Firebirds coach Pat Miles said. "They did that. There was emphasis on defense the past few days and their approach (at bat) didn’t waver."

McCann came on to relieve John Hughes in the sixth inning of Game 1 with the score 5-3 and a runner in scoring position with one out. He allowed that inherited runner to score, but held fast the rest of the way. Koshy, playing third base, committed an error to start the seventh but redeemed himself quickly by throwing that man out at second base on a sacrifice attempt and later gunning down the would-be tying run on a throw to the plate.

"I’m used to coming in in those situations and I like throwing strikes, counting on my defense and getting the job done," McCann said.

Luca Lopetrone had three hits and Sean Lane and Enzo Carpentiere each had two hits for the Bayhawks (5-7) in Game 1.

Foshy may have made big plays in the first game, but he held the spotlight in Game 2. He allowed only an unearned run of the seven innings on five hits and a walk while striking out seven. He retired 13 of the last 15 batters he faced, six on strikeouts.

"I made two big errors (Wednesday) and I told all the guys that the loss was on me," Koshy said. "So getting this win today and getting us back on a streak is very satisfying."

"The errors (Wednesday) hurt enough that we replaced him defensively," Miles said. "He’s only a sophomore, but he came back with focus today. Shaking off the error to make a couple alert plays in the first game and pitching a complete game in the second? He’s very good now and we are very happy he’ll be playing here two more years."

Steven Hardiman hit a solo homer and had two RBI, Vincent Napolitano hit a solo homer and Kwiatkowski was among five Firebirds with two hits. St. Dom’s catcher Chris Sais had two hits and an RBI and picked a runner off second base in Game 2.

In a way, a bad game and a loss may end up serving Kellenberg well. As Hardiman said "our heads were kind of getting big. We were undefeated and started feeling unbeatable. The loss put us back in this mindset to win."