CRYSTAL LAKE – There isn’t a better way to start a baseball game than the way Prairie Ridge did Tuesday night.
Wolves pitcher Danny Burris shut down visiting Harlem in order in the top half of the first, and when the Wolves stepped to the plate in the bottom half, leadoff hitter Bryan Klendworth wasted no time in getting things going.
The right-fielder lined the first pitch he saw to the right-center gap and was off. The ball rolled to the wall and by the time the Huskies got the ball to the cut-off man, Klendworth was more than halfway home for an inside-the-park home run.
“To have a leadoff man that can create like that and get our offense going really helps,” Prairie Ridge coach Glen Pecoraro said of Klendworth.
The Wolves earned a 9-1 victory over the Huskies at Lippold Park, which has a fully synthetic infield.
In his next three at-bats, Klendworth tripled, singled and tripled again, amassing three RBIs, scoring four runs while accounting for 11 total bases during his 4-for-5 night.
“It was just a lot of fun today,” Klendworth said. “The ball looked like a pumpkin to me, actually. I just relied on the skills that I’ve been practicing over the winter and I was just trying to stay calm and my approach was just see ball, hit ball.”
Matt Furst went 3 for 3 with two RBIs behind Klendworth while Austin Covers went 1 for 2, including a scorching double in the first. The Wolves (2-0) picked up 11 total hits while putting pressure on the Huskies pitchers.
Harlem starting pitcher Cody Dietz gave up two runs in three innings but threw 67 pitches, which led to his early exit. Joshua Dickerson pitched the next two innings in relief as Wolves scored five runs while seeing 60 pitches.
Pecoraro attributes the amount of pitches his batters saw to his philosphy of working opposing pitchers into deep pitch counts, which leads to better at-bats later in the game.
“We talk about them seeing pitches early in the season to train their eyes and really wait for your pitch,” the coach said. “We talk about when you have two strikes to extend your at-bats to see more pitches and to give information to your teammates. It also is to help yourself on your next at-bat. That way we will have better approaches at the plate.”
While the bats got the crowd cheering, the Wolves’ pitching effort was solid. Burris went four innings and allowed a hit, one walk while picking up a strikeout for his first win of the season. Steven Ladd pitched the next two innings and Drew Buchta pitched the seventh.
The pitchers collectively allowed five hits and only one run. The earned run was attributed to Ladd.
“I just wanted to go out there and get ahead of hitters and throw strikes,” Burris said. “I felt good. There were some issues that I worked through but I did an overall good job of hitting my spots especially for the first time out.”