Keenan Miscinski waited more than a full year to collect his first varsity hit for Evanston’s baseball team.
Miscinski made it worth the wait, delivering a game-tying RBI single in the 5th inning that sent the Wildkits on their way to an 11-7 triumph over Highland Park in the Central Suburban League opener for both squads Tuesday.
Miscinski’s timely hit and strong bullpen performances by Matt Anderson and Charlie Maxwell provided the keys as Evanston improved to 8-2 overall. Evanston shook off the rust of not having played a game in a full week by banging out 11 hits, including 3 apiece by Adam Geibel and designated hitter Chris Brown.
But it was Miscinski, a senior who missed all of last season with a broken thumb, who came through after the Kits had blown a 6-0 lead and fell behind 7-6.
His line single to left with two outs chased home teammate Geibel with the tying run, and the visitors tacked on three more runs in the inning. In the 7th, Miscinski provided some insurance when he doubled down the left field line and eventually scored on a throwing error as part of a delayed steal.
Miscinski, perhaps the most versatile player on the roster on defense, knew he wasn’t going to get many at-bats playing third base after sophomore Geibel was promoted to the varsity just prior to the spring break team trip to Florida. Tuesday, he started in left field.
“It really sucked not being able to play last year,” Miscinski recalled. “But I had a pretty good summer for the Evanston Naturals — although hitting wise it wasn’t great — and today I knew we had to do something to pick it up after we got down.
“The first pitch I saw was right down the middle, and then I was just looking for something to hit and pulled my hands in (on the swing). It was very exciting after waiting over a year for a chance like that. You don’t get big moments like that when you’re a freshman or a sophomore.”
“The good thing about Keenan is that he can play both corner outfield spots, and he can also play shortstop, second base or third base,” said ETHS head coach Frank Consiglio. “That was a big hit and he’s a kid who competes when he gets the opportunity. He’s fearless in any situation.
“As big as that hit was, I thought Matt Anderson was the one who was big for us after we got out of sync. We were out of our rhythm (due to 5 walks, a hit batter and 8 hits allowed by starter Drew Martinson and Joe Snapp) until Matt started throwing strikes and got us back into it. In cold weather baseball like this you want to keep your defense on their toes, and we got away from that with all of those walks and 3-2 counts. Matt got us back on our toes after the way he attacked the hitters.”
Anderson struck out three of the six batters he faced in his 2-inning stint, and Maxwell tossed a scoreless 7th against the Giants. Maxwell also drove in a pair of runs with a triple and a sacrifice fly for the winners.
Evanston pounced on Highland Park righty Toby Tigges for four runs in the first inning, highlighted by Brown’s two-run double off the center field fence. An error, Maxwell’s triple and singles by Tyler McHolland and Geibel boosted the advantage to 6-0 in the second.
But Martinson couldn’t locate his fastball and that allowed the hosts to chip away at the lead. Martinson issued two bases-loaded walks and a wild pitch to help the Giants get on the board in the second, and the damage would have been worse except catcher McHolland picked a runner off third base for an out.
In the Giants’ fourth, Snapp retired the first two hitters but three hits, two walks and an error followed in order before he finally ended the threat.
Evanston’s winning rally in the fifth started with Geibel’s line single to left. One out later Brown singled him to third, but it appeared that the rally was short-lived when Highland Park right fielder Jack Zeidler robbed Dylan Mulvihill of a hit with a diving catch.
Then it was Miscinski’s turn — finally.
Brown scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch by Tigges, and two more runs crossed when the Giants’ pitcher couldn’t handle a throw by first baseman Jack Greenwald that should have been the third out.
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.