After going 19-13 overall last season, the Evanston Township High School baseball team looks to build on that and have another solid season.
The Wildkits opened the 2012 season with a 4-0 loss to Prairie Ridge on March 17. Senior Jordan Crawford pitched four and two-thirds innings, allowing only one run while striking out six batters. But at the plate, the Kits struggled, producing just five base runners in the game.
But the Kits were able to bounce back and get the bats going on March 20 against Ridgewood. The Kits beat the Rebels, 11-0. From there, the Kits were able to make it two wins in a row as they beat St. Patrick’s, 3-2, the next day.
In that game, the Kits took a, 2-0, lead in the second inning off of an Alex Vergara RBI single. They added another run in the fourth, which ended up being the difference as the Kits held on for the 3-2 win. Senior Josh Isenstein pitched three innings and picked up his first win at the varsity level.
On March 23, the Kits went for their third win in a row, but came up short, falling to Oak Park, 1-0, in Evanston. In that game, the Huskies took the lead in the top of the third off an RBI double from Colin O’Brien. In the bottom of the inning, the Kits had Julian Gonzalez and Connor Hackett on base with only one out but were unable to push anything across. Then in the bottom of the seventh, the Kits had another good chance to tie it after Max Siedlecki doubled to center and Luke Hackett advanced Siedlecki to third off a sacrifice bunt. From there, Isenstein and Marcus Mixon were unable to bring him home as both struck out to end the game.
“If you look at the game from an approach standpoint, I thought our approaches were there,” said Kits’ Coach Frank Consiglio. “We weren’t one dimensional, we executed, and we took some shorter swings and worked hard. What I thought we didn’t do well was adjust to the strike zone that was being called. We didn’t want to believe it was a strike and when you have that mindset, you’re going to have 13 strikeouts and not put any runs across the board. So I thought our approaches were good, we just didn’t get the result we want.”
He added, “Obviously this game is about putting pressure on other teams and you can’t do that with 13 strikeouts, it’s just not a possibility. I thought other areas we played well. I think this is going to be a team, that as they get more experience at the plate, you’ll see some more success.”
Against Oak Park, Crawford pitched four and one-third innings and allowed only four hits and struck out five batters, but unfortunately, the Kits bats were silenced once again.
“Jordan’s been excellent. He’s taken two losses in his first two starts, one to Prairie Ridge and one to Oak Park, (but) he’s given up a combined three runs. He’s a guy that’s going to [face] the top guy on the other team and he’s always going to get the toughest competition and top teams that we have on the schedule, he’s that good,” said Coach Consiglio regarding Crawford.
“He’s really turned into a pitcher this year and much less of a thrower,” added the Coach. “He’s executing multiple pitches, does an excellent job of controlling the running game, got good movement on his stuff. He’s a heck of a player and doing a nice job. It’s tough for him from a win-loss standpoint but if you ask him, he wouldn’t want it any other way. He wants (to face) their best.”
With the loss to Oak Park, the Kits record stood at 2-2 overall. Being just four games into the season, the Kits hope to show steady improvement from day to day in order to be ready for post season action in late May.
“Every year here, we have expectations to compete at a high level and for us to be prepared and to be the best team we possibly can come playoff time,” said Coach Consiglio. “Some years that comes with it a battle for the conference, some years it doesn’t. Our idea here is to try and improve daily, get better every single day so that we can have success at playoff time.”
The Coach added, “With this team, were taking it on the chin a little bit from an at-bat standpoint early in the year. We’re young, and take the 11-0 win away, and we’ve put up four runs in three games and two of those we got shut out with double digit strikeouts and when that happens in high school baseball, that’s a direct reflection of inexperience at the plate.
“We’re trying to get that experience and improve our expectations as always. Were good enough here to win and compete with all schools. We want to improve and get to a certain point come playoff time.”
On March 26, the Kits bats finally turned hot again in a high-scoring contest against Buffalo Grow. The Kits scored seven runs in the third inning and four runs in the fourth, in a 14-9 win.
The next day, the Kits beat Walter Payton, 8-3 for a second consecutive win. The Kits scored two runs in each of the first three innings and added one run in the fifth and sixth innings.
The Kits played on March 28 (after this paper went to press) and are scheduled to play on March 29 and 31 before heading to Orlando for their spring break trip, where they will play four games between Apr. 2 and 5.
“It’s going to be a lot of baseball but we have the depth for it and the expectation is to win those games,” said the Coach.