HUNTLEY – In its first two games, the Huntley baseball team has become familiar with home plate.
The Red Raiders have scored 28 runs in two games, 16 of which came against DeKalb on Wednesday in the season opener and 12 crossed the plate Thursday afternoon in a 12-4 victory over visiting Palatine.
The offensive surge, coach Andy Jakubowski said, can be attributed to knowing what areas of the field to hit the ball with runners in scoring position and timely hitting.
“I thought we situationally hit pretty well today, especially with a man on third with less than two outs,” Jakubowski said. “We did a really good job and I was pretty pleased with how well we did.”
In the first inning, Bryce Only walked with two outs, stole second and on a 1-1 pitch, Tyler Albright slapped a single to right field to score Only for the game’s first run.
By utilizing the right side of the field and timely bunts, the Red Raiders (2-0) added three more in the bottom half of the second before breaking the game wide-open in the fourth. Five consecutive batters reached base and the following hitters drove them in with balls hit up the middle and to the right side of the field.
After the inning, Huntley was up 12-2 and the game nearly ended after the fifth inning because of the 10-run mercy rule, but Palatine scored a run with two outs to extend the game.
Thursday was only the third time the Red Raiders had been on the field, but while the players and coaches waited for the field to dry, much of the practice time has been allotted to facing live pitching.
“We’ve been working on facing live pitching four days a week,” Jakubowski said. “We had three groups of pitchers with about five or six guys and that’s how [the pitchers] got their pitch counts up.
“Our hitters have been getting at least three live at-bats a day, so basically we’re getting 12 to 15 at-bats per week and we should be around 50 to 60 at-bats at this point and we’re seeing the ball pretty well offensively as a result.”
The Red Raiders’ hitters looked comfortable at the plate, especially in the eight-run fourth inning as they chased Palatine starting pitcher Andrew MacAhon, scoring three runs without making an out. Huntley added five more runs on relief pitcher William Stewart later in the inning.
Huntley starting pitcher Eric Luecht welcomed the barrage of runs and pitched with a lead throughout his four innings. Luecht allowed one earned run and two hits while striking out six.
“When you pitch, you’re either confident or you’re not confident,” Luecht said. “I was very confident out there because the defense behind me was amazing and the offense has really been there. I felt good today with locations and everything went well for me and us today.”