When Charlie Maxwell moved into the leadoff slot in Evanston’s batting order a week ago, that’s when the Wildkits embarked on their current four-game winning streak.
Maxwell may not get as many good pitches to hit in the leadoff role. But the ETHS senior hasn’t forgotten how to produce like the middle-of-the-order hitter he was when the season started, either.
Run-scoring singles by Maxwell and Tyler McHolland in the bottom of the 6th inning helped the Wildkits slip past Glenbrook South 6-5 Tuesday in a Central Suburban League South division game. The win over the defending conference champs boosted the Kits to 14-6 overall and evened their league mark at 3-3.
Maxwell walked three times before beating out an infield hit to score teammate Alex Moore with the go-ahead run after the Titans had pulled into a 4-4 tie in the top of the frame. McHolland’s RBI single provided some insurance that proved necessary when Maxwell, who relieved starting pitcher Dylan Mulvihill in the 6th, allowed another run in the 7th but slipped a called third strike past GBS cleanup hitter Jordy Libman to end the game with the tying run at second.
Between them, Mulvihill and Maxwell managed to strand 14 baserunners, making enough clutch pitches to drop the defending champs to 3-3 in CSL South action and 4-12 overall. The two teams meet again Thursday at GBS.
Evanston head coach Frank Consiglio moved Maxwell up to the No. 1 spot and dropped the previous leadoff hitter, Ben Wilson, down to the cleanup spot after the Wildkits went through a rough stretch and lost 4 out of 5 games.
Whose idea was the switch? Maxwell himself.
“Charlie actually came to me and said put me up on top,” Consiglio recalled. “He said I want to start making some noise up there. He wanted to be in that No. 1 hole. This might not be a ‘forever’ lineup for us the rest of the year, but I don’t know that he was getting more opportunities to hit in the No. 3 hole. All I know is that right now he’s getting on base a lot, and he’s getting our offense going.
“Ben is more of a No. 4 hitter, anyway. Charlie didn’t get a lot of pitches to hit today, either, and we’ve got to find a way for him to see more good pitches.”
“Ben hits the ball really hard, but he’s not a selective hitter and I figured I could get on base a little more often ,” said Maxwell. “I thought that would allow us to steal some more runs early in games and force the issue a little more.
“Now that we’re in conference play I have noticed that I’m getting more walks, maybe because the (opposing) coaches and pitchers know me, and they feel more comfortable about pitching to Adam (No. 2 hitter Adam Geibel, a sophomore in his first varsity season) behind me. It’s OK if I’m not getting as many pitches to hit. My approach has stayed the same, and I’m just trying to help the team win most of all.
“Right now I think both Ben and I are a lot more comfortable. I love hitting in that leadoff spot.”
Maxwell earned his first victory on the mound this spring, although it took a blown save for that to happen. He walked two of the first three batters he faced to force across the tying run for the Titans, one of six free passes (along with two hit batsmen) allowed by Mulvihill and Maxwell combined.
Mulvihill did strike out 7, including inning ending whiffs of Drew Kaczmarek in the 3rd and Jack Anderson in the 5th to escape bases-loaded jams.
“Dylan did a nice job of getting the first 2 outs in most of those innings, but he didn’t attack the hitters to get that 3rd out,” Consiglio pointed out. “Even though he’s experienced, he hasn’t pitched in awhile and that will come the more and more he pitches.
“Now that we have guys in the right spots, it’s really fun for me to watch them competing in pressure situations like today. That’s the fun part of being a coach.”
Wilson drove in Evanston’s first run of the game with single in the 1st. In the ETHS 2nd, Geibel stroked a 2-run single down the left field line that reclaimed the lead after the Titans had solved Mulvihill for a pair of runs in the top of the inning.
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.