Frank Consiglio doesn’t mind waiting a little longer for Evanston’s offense to heat up – maybe when the Wildkits resume their annual spring break trip to Florida to play 10 games in seven days there next week.
In the meantime, the ETHS head coach knows he can rely on whatever arms he summons to pitch on a given day.
Evanston’s pitchers were clearly ahead of the hitters again Thursday, March 23, at Northwestern’s Miller Park as three ETHS pitchers allowed just five total hits in a 7-4 triumph over Lake Forest.
Starter Eron Vega yielded just a couple of unearned runs in his five-inning stint and relievers Noah Cryns and Henry Hayes finished off the Scouts in the last two frames as Evanston improved to 2-1 on the season.
The Wildkits will play again Friday at NU when they host Ridgewood. And so far, so good for the pitching staff. Consiglio couldn’t really complain about any of the 11 hurlers who have auditioned for bigger roles this spring to date.
Innings might be hard to find behind the rotation of Hank Liss, Vega and Jared Lortie but it’s a problem that Consiglio relishes.
With the depth on hand, he doesn’t even have to worry about pitch limits that hamper most programs on a weekly basis since they were instituted by the Illinois High School Association a couple of years ago.
“We’ve got four games this week, but at no point have I felt we don’t have the pitching to get through the week,” said Consiglio. “We’ve used three different starting lineups and still haven’t put what I consider to be our best hitting lineup out there because I want to give everyone an opportunity. All I know is that if the pitchers can keep us in every ballgame, at some point we’re going to hit.
“For the pitchers, it’s been a chance for them to figure out what pitches they need to get guys out. I thought Eron Vega was awesome today. He commanded his pitches and really attacked the zone. What makes him special is that he’s a different player in a game than he is in practice. He understands how to get his game to the next level, and when he brings it, he gets a boost and has that competitive edge.”
Vega, a junior right-hander, was almost flawless in his first start of the 2023 season. He surrendered just one hit, an infield single by the Scouts’ Shep Graf in the first inning, and pitched shutout ball until he allowed two unearned tallies in the fifth. He struck out six and walked two to pick up the victory.
Cryns fanned two of the three hitters he faced in his varsity debut, and Hayes allowed a two-run triple with two outs by Luca Royer while mopping up in the seventh.
Offensively, the Wildkits created plenty of traffic on the bases against Lake Forest hurlers Sam Larson, Josh Dueringer and Callum Morrison. The winners totaled eight hits and scored all of their runs with two outs, pushing across three runs in the second, one in the third, two in the fourth and one in the fifth.
Junior Jonah Hofeld, who started for the first time in the outfield, lined a bases-clearing double to left center to account for Evanston’s first three runs after back-to-back walks to James O’Connor and Ryan Grossman, plus a dropped third strike that allowed Mads Hansen to reach first safely, all after two outs.
In the ETHS third, Sam Sheikh (2 for 2) singled and came all the way home after a stolen bases and a pair of wild pitches by Larson. Kalil’s two-run double down the third base line boosted the lead to 6-0 in the fourth, and Vega helped his own cause when he singled in the fifth and eventually scored on a passed ball.