The Evanston Township High School baseball team was relentless on offense Wednesday at Mundelein Carmel, so relentless that the Wildkits fell just short of what could have been a season high for runs and hits.

The ETHS Wildkits take on the Corsairs of Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein on April 12. Credit: @WildkitBaseball Twitter

Darkness fell before Carmel could get the third out in the top of the seventh inning and the seven runs the Kits had pushed across in that frame didn’t count because the inning was never completed.

Instead, Evanston settled for its fifth win in a row after belting the Corsairs 11-3 behind a pair of home runs from Hank Liss.

No matter how the numbers added up, ETHS head coach Frank Consiglio knows that relentless – yet patient – approach at the plate is a trend the Kits want to continue. That’s how you build a championship offense, all the way through the batting order.

Consiglio sees the trust between the returning regulars and the newcomers to the starting lineup beginning to build – and the veteran coach likes what he sees.

“Last year with some of this same group, we had a lot of good at-bats from some of them during the season. But in spite of that, I never felt like they handed it off to the next guy in the lineup, and that’s what great offenses do,” he said. “The most important thing is that you trust the next guy in the order, that you’ll take a walk if it’s there and count on the next guy to come through. That’s what great offenses do, and that’s what I’ve seen lately from these guys.

“You have to trust when you’re in the [batter’s] box, that you don’t have to do too much because that next guy will take care of business.”

Officially, the Wildkits pounded out 11 hits in the first six innings, including those two home runs by Liss, a 3-for-4 effort from Eron Vega with three runs batted in and a single and a double each from Charlie Kalil and Brandon Brokowski.

The visitors jumped off the bus and pounced on Carmel for four runs in the first, the big blow a three-run line drive homer by Liss over the left field fence.

Carmel pitcher Gus Hoy kept the Kits off the scoreboard again until the fifth, when Liss launched a 390-foot drive to right center to push the lead to 5-3.

The Evanston senior, who last week pitched his second career no-hitter, found the perfect way to beat an infield shift the Corsairs employed against him in the fifth inning, stationing three infielders to the left of second. But they couldn’t keep the senior strongman from leaving the yard.

“Hank does like to pull the ball,” Consiglio smiled. “But he’s seen guys who are paid to do it beat the shift like that [in the major leagues]. That’s the best way to do it. The key for Hank when he’s hitting is when he’s hitting the ball to right center. That’s when you know he’s really locked in. If he stays within himself [and doesn’t get pull-happy], he’s strong enough to have a ton of success hitting the ball to right center too.

“I also like our first-inning mentality, because when you’re prepared for Inning 1, that really shows your character. We want to jump on other teams right away. If we keep jumping on teams at the start, and develop that hand-off mentality, I think we can be really good.”

Liss’ tape-measure blast in the fifth seemed to flip Evanston’s switch back to the “on” position on offense. Against relievers Will Bartels and Riley Wygant, the visitors sent 10 batters to the plate in a six-run sixth that put the game out of reach.

Walks to Dylan Denlow and Noah Cryns started the rally and Sam Sheikh was hit by a pitch to fill the bases with one out. Vega singled two runs across, Brokowski’s fly-ball double plated another, and a walk and a two-run single by Kalil accounted for the rest of the scoring that counted.

Consiglio emptied his bench in the final inning as the Kits registered six more hits that won’t count.

Winning pitcher Braden Grimm worked the first four innings, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out five. Cryns faced the minimum of six hitters in the last two frames, striking out three.

Evanston resumes Central Suburban League crossover action on Thursday vs. Niles North at ETHS.

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