ATHLETE OF THE WEEK
Only contributed in a big way as the Red Raiders were 3-0 for the week and clinched a share of first place in the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division.
Only had five hits in three games, four for extra bases.
The Nebraska signee was 1 for 4 in Tuesday’s 5-1, 11-inning victory at Cary-Grove, but the one hit was pivotal. He doubled in the 11th to score Mark Skonieczny from first base and the Raiders went on to score four runs.
Only pitched the first six innings of that game, limiting C-G to two hits and one earned run. He walked three and struck out five.
On Thursday, Only was 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI as the Raiders rolled over C-G, 12-0, in five innings.
On Friday, he was 2 for 4 with a double and a home run and two RBIs.
Pitching in: Only earned his high school reputation as a tough hitter by starting at third base, as a freshman, on the Raiders’ 2010 team that finished fourth in the IHSA Class 4A state tournament.
Nebraska recruited him for his ability to hit, but this season he has added another dimension for Huntley on the mound. Only, who has not pitched before in high school, said he thinks the last time he pitched he was in eighth grade playing travel baseball.
Still, Huntley’s coaches saw something in the offseason, so Only started working more.
“Bryce has learned how to become a pitcher,” Huntley coach Andy Jakubowski said. “He’s been able to spot pitches and get ahead with his fastball, and his changeup is outstanding. And he’s been able to locate his curveball. He’s done a tremendous job.”
Only had his worst outing of the season Monday in a 7-0 loss to McHenry, and at 3-4 has absorbed all the Raiders’ losses.
“He’s pitched better than his record indicates,” Jakubowski said.
Regional talk: Prairie Ridge coach Glen Pecoraro was a little miffed that McHenry was voted the No. 4 seed in its own Class 4A Regional, which starts next week. Pecoraro gave McHenry the top nod with his vote.
Grant is the top seed, followed by Prairie Ridge, Grayslake North, McHenry and Round Lake. Cary-Grove got the top seed at Jacobs, with Crystal Lake South and Jacobs right behind. Those teams all split their FVC Valley series, so that regional should be quite competitive.
Huntley got the top seed at DeKalb, where Dundee-Crown is No. 2, which sets up nicely for the Raiders to play in the sectional they host.
THIS WEEK'S TOP GAMES
Hampshire vs. Crystal Lake Central, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Fred Tipps Field
Central starts the week one game behind Grayslake North and Grayslake Central in the FVC Fox Division, so the Tigers need two wins and a little help for a share of the division title.
Cary-Grove vs. Prairie Ridge, 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Prairie Ridge
C-G still is in a position to finish as FVC Valley runner-up or tie with South.
– Joe Stevenson, email@example.com