Baseball: Huffman strikes out 17 on 167 pitches but Cogs lose in 10

GENOA – Brady Huffman went nine innings and struck out 17 batters, but the Genoa-Kingston baseball team lost to Burlington Central, 4-3, in 10 innings on Thursday.

The Cogs got a filibuster-like effort from their ace Huffman, who is committed to play at Illinois State in the fall. He gave up three runs, 1 earned while allowing two hits, walking seven and hitting a batter.

Despite committing six errors in the 10-inning contest, Huffman wasn’t fazed. Rather, he was more critical of his own performance.

“It’s baseball,” Huffman said. “You pick yourself up and you face the next challenge. Today, I allowed too many walks and gave them too much. I wasn’t consistent enough throughout the game with my location.”

The Cogs were trailing 3-0 for most of the game, until Zach Butler got things started in the sixth by reaching on a throwing error made by Rockets third baseman Ryan Knowlton. Butler was driven in on the next at bat by Tommy Lucca’s double. After a pop out by Tommy Hansen, Lucca scored on an error by Rockets second baseman Clay Milas. That brought Huffman to the plate with the tying runner on second. Huffman hit an RBI single up the middle to tie the game at 3.

“I’ve been struggling at the plate this year,” Huffman said. “My goal was to just put the barrel on the ball and hope something good happens.”

After innings seven through nine, where each team threatened to score but never did manage, Cogs coach Roger Butler pulled his star pitcher in the 10th. Huffman left the game with 167 pitches according to GameChanger.com. Despite that high pitch count, Huffman struck out two batters in the ninth inning.

“Brady is the kind of pitcher that gets better as the game goes on,” Butler said. “I’ve worked with Huffman since he was 6 years old. He told me that he could keep going. I trust him when he says that he has something left.”

After the home half of the ninth inning in which the Cogs had bases loaded and two outs and could not score, the Rockets took advantage of more lackluster Cogs defense. After first baseman David Lauber smacked a double into the gap in right center, he scored on the Cogs’ sixth and final error of the game.

“This has been a problem for us most of the year,” Butler said. “We’ve been working on it.”

In the bottom of the 10th, Andrew Caldwell led off with a single, but was doubled off first when Huffman flew out to center field.

“Burlington is a very good team,” Butler said. “You can’t strand nine runners on base and beat a team that is that good.”

The Cogs will play a doubleheader at 10 a.m. Saturday at Wing Park in Elgin against St. Edward.