With no outs at the bottom of the sixth inning and the bases loaded, a sense of panic brewed in the Eagles’ stands. But not only did the baseball team (13-11-0) come out of the sixth inning without giving up any runs, the team also beat Homestead High School (10-9- 2) 6-4 on Thursday, April 22.
Through the first three innings, sophomore pitcher Luke Wiechec kept Homestead at bay letting any runs score. The Eagles had trouble producing offense early, resulting in a 0-0 score through the third inning.
The tides turned when Homestead began the fourth inning with a bunt down the first base line. After loading the bases, Luke beaned a batter, allowing a run to score.
The Eagles responded in the bottom of the fourth with three runs on a two-out rally. With the bases loaded, pitcher junior Mitch Kehlet drove in two runs off a line drive to left-center field.
“[Shortstop and pitcher junior Mat] Snider told me to clear my head and find a pitch I could drive,” Mitch said. “I got a pitch I could handle, and I’m glad it fell for a hit.”
Senior Danny Auerbach hit a dribbler down the third base line to drive in one more run.
The top of the sixth inning was a critical point for the Eagles. Luke had to hold off a bases-loaded situation with a 3-2 lead. A single followed by a two-base error allowed Homestead to score, tying the game. Luke pitched his way out of the inning, giving up only one run.
“I was in complete panic almost that whole inning, but Mat and Mitch came out there and calmed me down to help me regroup and throw strikes,” Luke said. “That was a huge momentum swing for us and we were really pumped after that.”
To counter the top of the inning scare by Homestead, the Eagles produced three more runs in the bottom of the sixth. With no outs and the bases loaded, Mitch hit the go ahead run in on an RBI single. Senior Nicky Young and sophomore Joe Chedid rounded out the inning with two singles and two more runs to make the score 6-3 at the end of the sixth.
Homestead could not mount a big enough comeback in the top of the seventh, despite scoring one run. The final score of the game was 6-4.
The Eagles showed major improvement of their mental and offensive play over the course of the season.
“[In practice] we have been focusing a lot on our hitting because our lineup should be producing more runs than it is,” Mat said.
The game proved that their practice has paid off. The mental aspect of hitting played a big part in offensive woes, but many agree that there were other issues that needed to be fixed.
“We needed to hit with an approach and have confidence,” Mitch said. “Everyone tried to get base hits instead of at bats.”
Another important factor of the Homestead victory was the play by younger players, which has been an essential part of the season.
“I think we’ve grown as a team because when you bring in a bunch of young guys with an older team, you have to figure out how everybody fits,” Assistant Head Coach Joey Fulcher said. “I think once we do that we should be able to make the playoffs and do some good things there.”
To finish off the season, the Eagles hope to improve their CCS record. According to Head Coach Sandy Wihtol, the players need to keep working hard and practicing well.
“If lessons are learned then [the players] will make the game easier for themselves,” Wihtol said. “If they just apply the things we’ve been trying to teach them, we should be good.”
Despite some frustration mid-season due to losses to big name teams like St. Francis (lost 14-1) and Valley Christian (lost 8-0), the Eagles feel they still have a chance to do well in the CCS playoffs.
“Our team has everything a baseball team needs. What we need is to show up more mentally-prepared and do the little things,” catcher sophomore Nolan O’Such said. “We just need to step up and show everybody who we are.”