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Daren Osby had something happen to him last week that you’d think would be impossible at any level of baseball.

Osby, a starting pitcher for the Joliet Slammers, was selected for the Frontier League’s all-star team – it will play the Can-Am League on July 10 – despite having a winless record.

Osby was one of the top rookies in the Frontier League last year and helped the Slammers win a championship. This year, Osby has again been highly effective but a victim of bad luck and poor run support.

After his performance Sunday afternoon at Wild Things Park, Osby no longer has a winless record.

He pitched three-hit ball over eight innings and Joliet’s Harrison Bragg scored two runs, one on a fourth-inning solo homer, lifting the Slammers to a 3-0 victory over Washington.

Osby (1-3) took a two-hit shutout into the eighth inning before allowing a leadoff homer to Washington catcher Cody Erickson. A righthander who had a 7-3 record with Joliet last year, Osby struck out seven Wild Things batters and did not issue a walk.

“He’s given us a chance to win game in and game out,” Joliet manager Jeff Isom said of Osby, who signed with Joliet last year after playing at Troy University.

“Until his last start, he was leading the league in ERA. It’s odd that a starting pitcher makes an all-star game without a win, but if you look at his walk-to-strikeout ratio and his ERA (2.42), then you can see why he made it. If we get him a couple more runs every game, then he probably has four or five wins.”

Three was more than enough runs for Joliet, the lowest-scoring team in the league, to win the game and series against Washington. It was the first time Washington lost a series in more than two weeks.

“We got dominated, plain and simple,” Washington manager Gregg Langbehn said. “(Osby) works ahead in the count and pounds the strike zone. We took hittable fastballs and the ones we did swing at we didn’t square up.

“He’s a good pitcher in this league because he throws all of his pitches for strikes. We struggled with him last year. He’s a good pitcher. He doesn’t overpower you, but he doesn’t beat himself.”

Washington, which remains three games out of first place in the East Division, was playing catch-up after Bragg, the Slammers’ designated hitter, led off the fourth inning with a solo home run off starter Michael Austin (3-5). Austin gave up five hits and four walks, but only two runs, in 5 1/3 innings.

The Slammers added to their lead in a messy sixth inning that included a passed ball, wild pitch and error. Bragg hit a leadoff double and scored on a single by Peyton Isaacson. Tyler Coolbaugh made it 3-0 when he scored on a wild pitch.

Erickson’s home run, his second of the year, made it 3-1 but the Wild Things mustered little else in the way of offense. The only other Washington hits were singles by Blake Adams in the fourth and Erickson in the fifth.

The Wild Things did get the potential tying run to the plate in the ninth after Joliet closer Ryan Koziol hit Adams with a pitch. Two batters later, Shaine Hughes lined into an easy game-ending double play.

“We have to keep on playing better,” Langbehn said. “We just ran into a good pitcher today.”

Extra bases

Isaacson, the Slammers’ catcher, had an interesting at-bat in the second inning. He took three swings, each time losing the grip on his bat. The first swing resulted in the bat flying into the first-base box seats. After getting a different bat, Isaacson lost that one on his next swing and it hit the railing in front of the Wild Things’ dugout. While striking out swinging, Isaacson’s bat flew out of his hand and rolled out toward Washington second baseman Ryan Cox. ... The Wild Things begin a three-game series Tuesday at Lake Erie before returning home Friday to face Schaumburg.

Sports Editor

Since 1986, Chris Dugan has been covering local sports for the Observer-Reporter, and named sports editor in 2006. Before joining the O-R, he was sports editor at the Democrat-Messenger, and a former member of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

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