Unlike head coaches in some sports, Evanston baseball coach Frank Consiglio didn’t construct his starting lineup so it featured all seniors Monday when the Wildkits hosted Niles North for Senior Day.
But there were plenty of senior moments to go around in a13-3 slaughter rule victory over Niles North, the 10th straight win for the streaking Wildkits.
A traffic jam on the bases that included 10 hits, 10 walks and a couple of hit batters — in a contest that only lasted 5 innings — featured plenty of contributions by the Class of 2017, and underlined the fact that this might be one of the best offensive ballclubs Consiglio has coached in his 10-year tenure at ETHS.
The team batting average has hovered around the .300 mark all year, but Evanston’s success on offense this spring is also about on-base percentage and plate discipline, along with team speed that helps create constant pressure on opposing defenses.
All of that has added up to an overall record of 22-10 and a 12-3 mark in Central Suburban League South division play.
“Not every Senior Day turns out like that,” Consiglio pointed out after ETHS scored 2 runs in the first inning, 6 runs in the third, 2 runs in the fourth and 3 more in the fifth. “I wish I could take that approach every single game and play that many guys. I really thought this might be a trap game after the way we had to go all-out Saturday (at Deerfield). It’s something you battle as a coach, like the fact that you’re starting the (state) playoffs in 10 days, you’re trying to keep your win streak going, and you’re still playing for something in the conference race.
“Trying to do all that isn’t easy, but these guys made it easy today. It’s still 10 times easier to manage in a 2-1 game than in all the situations we faced today.”
Of Evanston’s 12 seniors on the roster, only pitcher Charlie Kihm and injured catcher Charlie Krause didn’t see action on the day when parents and players were singled out for recognition. The rest — Matt Anderson, Oliver Baldwin-Edwards, Chris Brown, Joey Chafetz, Jesse Heuer, B.J. Johnson, Alex Moore, Daniel Nortz, Matt Reynolds and Joe Snapp — all shared in the victory as Evanston stretched out its winning string entered the last three regular season games Wednesday at Niles North, Thursday against Mundelein Carmel, and Saturday at Loyola Academy.
Two-out singles by a couple of juniors, Joe Epler and Fletcher Brown, plated a pair of runs in the ETHS first and Epler finished the day with a walk, a single, a double, two runs scored and two runs-batted-in. But Niles North (15-16) pulled even when starting pitcher Henry Haack experienced a rare wild spell in the third, hitting back-to-back batters and then issuing a five-pitch walk to Josh Schoenberg to fill the bases with no outs.
Evanston regained the momentum and strolled to a 6-run home half of the third, thanks to four straight walks issued by losing pitcher Don Martin. Martin also committed an error on a pickoff attempt, and run-scoring singles by Johnson and Adam Geibel (2-for-4, 3 RBI) did the rest of the damage in that frame.
Moore doubled to right center to drive home pinch-runner Nortz in the ETHS fourth, and Dedwards singled him home. The Wildkits piled on 3 more runs in their half of the fifth, with Geibel delivering a walk-off single to right that scored Jake Urdangen and accounted for the final 10-run cushion.
“This is a difficult team to pitch through, (hitters) 1 through 9,” Consiglio added. “We’ve had a really good on-base percentage as a team and we’re really good at scoring runs. We’re always preaching to them about not expanding their zones or chasing pitches, and they stay aggressive when they have good (hitting) counts.
“The team speed we have really helps, too. We’re able to do some good things because we speed other teams up on defense. I think they complement each other very well on offense.”
Dennis Mahoney is sports information directo for ETHS.