With a lot of help from his friends, Hank Liss got Evanston Township High School’s baseball team back on the winning track Tuesday.
Liss went 3-for-3 with four runs batted in and pitched four scoreless innings as the Wildkits bounced back from their first conference loss by demolishing Niles West 14-0 in a Central Suburban League South division slaughter-rule win.
Blanked by Glenbrook South last Thursday, the Kits stroked 10 hits Tuesday and improved to 19-3 overall. They remained atop the CSL South standings with a 7-1 mark in league play.
ETHS head coach Frank Consiglio took the opportunity to shake up his batting order after that shutout loss last week snapped a 10-game winning string. High school coaches rarely use the same order for an entire season and the team’s depth allows him to do that.
“In a high school baseball batting order, if you have four hitters going well at the same time, that’s fantastic!” Consiglio said. “But that also means you have five who are NOT going well. When I think about our lineup, I think about contact percentage, who’s going to put the ball in play with runners in scoring position.
Juggling the lineup
“Hitters run hot and cold and a big part of putting a lineup together is putting them in the right spots, when they’re going good and when they’re not going good. You have to ride the guys who are hot and put them in the high leverage [middle of the order] spots. We take a lot of pride in trying to figure that out. Sometimes it works – sometimes it doesn’t – and today it worked.”
Jared Lortie, slotted into the No. 6 spot most of the season, dropped down to No. 9 in the order and lined a pair of run-scoring singles when the visitors broke the game open in Skokie in the second and third innings.
Evanston already led 1-0 after an RBI double by Liss in the first, a blast to left center that would have been out of most high school ballparks. The Wildkits pushed across three more runs in the second on singles by designated hitter Noah Cryns and Lortie, a double down the right field line by Charlie Kalil, and a fly ball single by Brandon Brokowski that West right fielder Maddux Niedermaier got a glove on but couldn’t collect.
Two errors by West third baseman Andrew Pawlow – both of them bad throws – prolonged the third inning and helped chase starting pitcher Alexi Maldonado. Singles by Liss and Lortie, both at big league exit velocity, were the only hits in a rally that also included a pair of walks and a hit batter before the inning finally ended.
Evanston put the game out of reach with another five-run splurge in the fourth, highlighted by RBI singles from Jason McDermott, Liss and Braden Grimm.
On the mound, Liss scattered four hits and struck out seven in his four-inning stint. Grimm mopped up with a scoreless relief inning for the Wildkits, who play at Vernon Hills on Wednesday and host Niles West in a rematch set for Thursday.