The ability to learn from your mistakes is something any high school teacher or coach can appreciate.
Evanston’s baseball team has started to adopt that type of identity under head coach Frank Consiglio — and the result has been a four-game winning streak for the Wildkits.
Embracing the idea of making adjustments — even within a single at-bat — the Kits turned back Notre Dame 6-4 Tuesday for their fourth straight victory and improved to 8-5 on the season.
Winning pitcher Matt Anderson adjusted after surrendering a home run on the first pitch of the contest, and Joe Epler slugged a two-run home run — his first career varsity four-bagger — and also delivered an RBI single for the winners.
The search for a team “identity” led to a slow start this spring for the Wildkits with juniors making up a good part of the starting lineup. But since returning from their trip to Florida on spring break, the Kits have combined consistent pitching with an efficient offense that doesn’t have to out-hit you to beat you.
Tuesday, ETHS had just 5 hits against four different Notre Dame pitchers. But the ability to manufacture runs has always been a trademark of Consiglio-led teams and the Wildkits as a team have shown the progress that brings winning streaks.
“We’re hitting in the right spots, with two outs and two strikes with runners in scoring position, and that’s the mark of a good team,” Consiglio pointed out. “We’re laying off pitches we can’t handle and we’re making pitchers work deep in counts. We’re not chasing pitches much, and that’s becoming part of our identity.
“Epler’s been hitting the heck out of the baseball for us all year, and he’s a guy who already knows how to make adjustments within an at-bat. He’s making solid adjustments, where he’ll get beat on an off-speed pitch, and then hit it hard somewhere the next time he sees it.
“I was really proud of Matt Anderson and the way he adjusted today, too. After he gave up that first-pitch homer he worked out of that inning in a hurry and reset himself. He did a good job of pitching with that lead when he got it and he kept Notre Dame out of reach.”
Anderson allowed 3 runs on 6 hits in his five-inning mound stint, but the numbers didn’t tell the whole story. The Dons needed Kevin Pritt’s bloop single to left field with two outs in the fourth to push across their second run, and a leadoff walk and another fly ball single accounted for a run in the fifth.
Notre Dame mustered an unearned run against reliever Henry Haack in the seventh, before catcher Fletcher Brown gunned down a runner at third base to end the game.
Chris Brown’s single and Epler’s drive over the left center field fence provided an answer to that early home run allowed by Anderson. Back-to-back errors by the Dons, an RBI double by Jesse Heuer, Brown’s sacrifice fly and an RBI single by Epler did the rest of the damage in a three-run third.
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.