After a rough stretch of losing four of their last six games, head coach Frank Consiglio knew his team had to step up before the oncoming gauntlet of conference games going into the middle of next month.
The Kits did not get off to a good start against Glenbrook North two weeks ago. It was Spartans pitcher Alex Hermeling’s day in front of his home crowd.
Amid blustery conditions with the wind blowing in, Hermeling (2-1) threw a three-hitter with 12 strikeouts and only one walk to defeat Evanston, 2-1, in a Central Suburban League crossover game in Northbrook.
“He had command of his pitches from the first inning to the last inning. He was very efficient in his outing,” GBN coach Dominic Savino said. “Evanston has good hitters and they battled.”
GBN (12-1, 2-0 in CSL North) scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Jack Day reached the bases on an error, and Cody Phipps pinch-ran. After a strikeout, Charlie Apfelbach singled and Brett Synek reached first on an error to load the bases. A low throw on Sean Thomas’ grounder enabled Phipps to score the winning run.
The Spartans, with six hits, scored their first run in the second inning when Jason Scholl doubled, moved to third on Tyler Hurst’s single and scored on a wild pitch.
Wildkits pitcher Jordan Crawford turned in a strong effort in the loss. He pitched six innings, allowing seven hits, two runs and three walks while striking out four. Kenny Horwat (2-for-3) and Trevor Forde supplied Evanston’s hits.
Coach Consiglio knows his squad needs to get things going and get in a groove – as they were earlier in the season when they showed their true potential.
“We played really well for the most part in South Carolina. It was a coming-together process and we faced some real good teams,” said the Coach. “We were expecting to come home and see what we have, but we’ve only played two games. We played well in both. We have an opportunity to be really good and play at a high level. But we’ve had a lot of interruption. Like everybody else, we’re struggling to get into a rhythm.”
Consiglio described the team’s pitching as “sporadically good.”
“They need to get ahead, stay ahead and put away guys,” he said. “When they get to 1-and-2, it has to be night-night and on to the next at-bat. We don’t put batters away enough. It’s a challenge to put guys away, but we are pitching with too much finesse, nibbling. Until we stop doing that, we’re not going to be where we need to be.”
But the Kits didn’t waste any time rebounding from a bad loss.
The Wildkits scored eight runs in the first inning of Game 1 in an eventual 15-2 and 14-5 doubleheader sweep of Von Steuben last Saturday.
The first-inning outburst gave Wildkits starter Jack Anderson all the support he needed as he gave up only one earned run in four innings with four strikeouts. Matt Carmichael threw the final inning in relief in his first pitching appearance of the spring.
Mark Johnson led the offense by going 3 for 4 with three RBI, while Carmichael was 2 for 2, with 2 RBIs, and Gabe Derman was 2 for 3, with 2 RBIs.
In the second game, the Wildkits erased a 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the first by scoring four runs, helped by four walks and three hit batters. Von Stueben scored twice in the third and fifth, but each time the Kits bounced back with five runs in the bottom of the inning.
Johnson once again led the Wildkits offensively by going 3 for 3, with three RBIs, including a two-run home run, capping a 6-for-7, six-RBI day. Derman added two hits and two RBIs. Luke Hackett also went 2 for 3.
Justin Kleschen earned the win for Evanston, giving up five hits in four-plus innings. Max Siedlecki and Jordan Crawford were solid in relief.
Evanston (9-6) has a packed schedule ahead, and it starts in Skokie to face Niles West tomorrow afternoon. They come home to go head-to-head with Oak Park River Forest and to take on Maine East on Saturday. The Kits stay home to face off with Maine West next Monday and the next day against Maine South. They go to Park Ridge to play the Hawks next Thursday, then travel to Niles to face Notre Dame under the lights next Friday night. They finish the long stretch next Saturday against Niles North on their home field.