The line drives are jumping off the bat of Sam Evans once again.
After struggling to hit over .200 over the first six weeks of the high school baseball season, the Evanston senior got back on track Saturday in wet and miserable conditions at Buffalo Grove.
Evans went 3-for-4 with a home run and drove in 4 runs, and Charlie Maxwell registered a 3-pitch save as the Wildkits scored a soggy 10-7 non-conference triumph over the Bison for their fourth consecutive victory.
Even the solo home run hit by Evans leading off the 5th inning was a line drive, his first round-tripper of the season. He paced a 13-hit assault by the Wildkits in a game that lasted only 6 innings because of the wet playing conditions.
James Allen drove in 2 runs with a pair of hits and Mark Roth drove in 2 with a single and a sacrifice fly for the winners, who concluded a busy week with an overall record of 14-5-1.
Evans and Maxwell are the only two returning starters as position players for ETHS this spring and both players knew the spotlight would be on them, both from a production and leadership standpoint. And this isn’t the first time ETHS head coach Frank Consiglio has seen a player who comes off a solid junior year come back and struggle as a senior.
“Last year Sam had a lot of success for us, but now he’s a guy in the middle of the order and I think he just tried to do too much early in the year. I’ve seen that happen a lot for seniors like that,” Consiglio said. “You just try to tell them to simplify things and just be yourself.
“Sam’s taking a shorter swing and that shows you that he’s simplified things. He took it upon himself to put in a lot of extra work because he understood that he needed to make some changes. He’s putting together some really good at-bats this past week — and I’m happy that home run was a line drive, too.”
Allen and James delivered RBI singles in a 3-run first for the visitors, but the Bison knotted the score at 3-3 by the third inning against Evanston hurler Drew Martinson. Two of those runs were unearned.
Evanston pushed across two more runs in the fourth when Roth singled and Ben Wilson was hit by a pitch, all with the bases loaded. But Buffalo Grove reliever Jacob Letwat escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam without further damage.
Letwat yielded Evans’ leadoff blast in the fifth and a single by Tyler McHolland led to another run. Doubles by Justin Farrow and Allen, and singles by Evans and McHolland, upped the score to 10-3 in the 6th.
Reliever Charlie Bailey struggled with his control due to a slippery mound and a persistent rain, so Consiglio had to call on shortstop Maxwell to get the final out. It came with the bases loaded in a save situation, as Maxwell retired Danny Levato on a popup to right field.
“This is the best week of at-bats I’ve seen from us in a long time,” Consiglio praised. “This has been an outstanding 4-game stretch for us. I’m starting to see a lot more line drives from everyone. They’ve changed their approaches at the plate, and it’s working.”