HAMMOND | Earlier this summer, some of the Hammond Chiefs were joking around about a T-shirt slogan for the coronation of Chiefs president and manger Dave Sutkowski's 800th win.
The most creative one talked about was the following: "Bush 800-0, his players 0-for two decades."
It looks like someone out of the Chiefs camp is going to have to start arranging the T-shirt orders after Saturday morning's 13-3 five-inning win over South Bend Clay No. 2 in the Babe Ruth state tournament opener for Sutkowski's 800th win as a head coach.
"It's really just a number," Sutkowski said. "I suppose if you do something for this long, it's bound to happen sooner or later."
It didn't start so well for the Chiefs (23-9), as they allowed a run in each of the first two innings after starter Mike Poulos walked in one and allowed the other to score from third on a passed ball.
"I told Mike that he's not gonna have his best stuff every game, but he battled through, got to 50 pitches and we got him out of there," Sutkowski said. "He'll get another start down the road, because we have to win four to get the tournament."
That would be the bulk of the damage for South Bend Clay, though, as Poulos' fellow Munster teammate Chris Slivka came in and tossed three innings of one-run relief while striking out seven.
"Coach prides himself with the program," Slivka said. "I just tried to throw strikes and trust my fielders."
After Hammond tallied two while drawing three walks in the bottom of the first, the second time through the batting order proved to be much more dangerous, as they exploded for seven in the next inning.
Highlighted by a two-run double from Lake Central's Jonathan Vercimak, the Chiefs also got RBIs from Bishop Noll's Kody Alayon, Illiana Christian's Josh Van Beek, Slivka, and Andrean's Jeremy Briggs in the inning.
"Their pitcher was a little wild at first, so we had to back up in the box," Vercimak said. "My mindset was to put one in the outfield, and I just put a good swing on it,"
RBIs from Cody Maskovsky and Mike Gianackos helped the Chiefs end the game early.
Sutkowski credited the way his team stepped up for his pitcher and said that's how you get to 800 wins.
"I didn't do this alone," he said. "Without the players or others that are involved now and those who have helped in the past, this wouldn't have happened."