Mark Roth waited his entire baseball life to turn on the power switch as a hitter. And the timing couldn’t have been better for the Evanston senior, whose first career home run was the big blow in the Wildkits’ 10th consecutive victory Tuesday at Waukegan.

Roth’s third inning solo home run — only his second extra-base hit of the season — and Russell Snapp’s 5-hitter on the mound helped the Kits extend their winning streak with a 3-0 Central Suburban League South division triumph at Weiss Field.

Evanston reached the 20-victory plateau with the win and improved to 20-5-1 overall. It’s the 3rd straight year that head coach Frank Consiglio’s teams have earned 20 wins or more, a first in the history of the program dating back to the 1920s.

The Wildkits remained in the thick of the CSL South race with league leader Glenbrook South and could still achieve a school record for wins in a single season. The 1981 squad posted a 25-4-1 mark, the best to date.

If that happens, it’s players like Roth who will make it happen. Batting out of the No. 9 hole for most of the season, Roth is hitting at a .407 clip after earning only a handful of at-bats as a junior.

Now he’s translated the athleticism that made him an all-conference player in soccer to the baseball diamond. He lined a 2-1 pitch from Waukegan hurler Augie Voight over the center field fence — a blast that traveled about 350 feet — with the Wildkits already leading 1-0 in the 3rd.

“When Mark’s in rhythm, and when he works the biggest part of the field, he’s a really good hitter,” Consiglio said. “That was a huge hit for him today against one of the better pitchers in the conference. He’s a guy who has a lot of fun out there and we love having those multi-sport guys in our program, because those are usually our better athletes.. He’s extremely athletic and there’s really nothing he can’t do on the field. What stands out to me are his quickness and his agility.”

The 5-foot-8, 135-pounder still needs a little work on developing a home run trot, but there’s a reason for that.

“The closest I’ve come to hitting a home run before might have been in a U-12 tournament,” Roth recalled. “I tracked it going around first, and I thought it was out. But it hit off the wall and I ended up getting thrown out at second base.

“Today I knew I’d barreled it up pretty good, but I just put my head down and ran. It really felt good.”

A shoulder injury and a concussion limited Roth’s playing time as a freshman and a sophomore, and last year he was stuck behind a senior second baseman, Marty Fenn.

And batting in the leadoff slot at the beginning of the season, he struggled to get untracked.

“I had a really rocky start to the season,” Roth said. “Then I made an adjustment and concentrating my swing to right field, and started trusting my hands more.

“Getting an opportunity to play more this year is just a part of it (his success). I also have a different mindset from last year. I know I probably won’t pursue baseball any more in college (he’ll play soccer at Carleton College), so I know that every game, every swing this year could be my last one. And it really opened up my eyes when I got dropped to 9th in the order, too. But the pressure’s off when you’re batting 9th and you get to see a lot more fastballs, too.”

Roth’s home run and unearned runs scored by ETHS in the first and sixth innings were all that Snapp needed to record his 8th win in 9 decisions so far this spring. He matched his season total for mound victories last year by scattering 5 hits and striking out 8, and two of those hits were of the infield variety.

ETHS opened the scoring in the first when Ben Wilson reached on an error, raced to third on Justin Farrow’s single, and crossed on Charlie Maxwell’s infield out.

After Roth’s round-tripper, Voight held the visitors scoreless until the sixth. With one out, James Allen tripled over the right fielder’s head and scored standing up on a wild relay throw by the Bulldogs.

Waukegan posed a mild threat to Snapp’s shutout bid with one out in the 7th on singles by Neal Morrill and Devonte Cantu. But the ETHS right-hander reached back and struck out by Voight and pinch-hitter Mark DeLaTorre to end the game.

Source: ETHS Sports Information

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