Baseball: Kameron Yearsley’s homer a highlight as Yorkville christens new turf field by beating West Aurora

Yearsley hits three-run homer, drives in six in 15-5, five-inning win

Yorkville's Kameron Yearsley (17) is greeted at home after hitting a three run homer against West Aurora during a baseball game at Yorkville High School on Monday, April 15, 2024.

YORKVILLE – Kameron Yearsley stopped at second base, looked toward the Yorkville dugout and lifted his arms in wonder.

“I was like, ‘What fence did it hit?’ ” the Yorkville senior said.

Yearsley’s towering fly ball that hit the netting just beyond the fence in left field and went back in the field of play, after a brief delay, was correctly ruled a three-run home run.

The first-ever home run on the field was one of a few quirky moments in Yorkville’s overall successful opening of its new turf baseball field, a 15-5 five-inning win over West Aurora in the Southwest Prairie West opener.

Yearsley, who doubled in two runs in his previous at-bat, came to the plate in the fourth inning with two on and two out, and Yorkville (9-5, 1-0) leading 4-3.

He went the opposite way for a high fly that kept carrying and appeared to go off the fence for a double. But the ball hit the tall netting just beyond the fence put up to protect a house beyond the field.

“They just put [netting] out there behind the fence for clarification with the house, but I was like, ‘What did it hit?’ It hit the net and bounced right back and they thought it was in play,” said Yearsley, who had six total RBIs on the day. “I stood on second and I was like, ‘What happened?’ I was shocked I hit it that far because I didn’t feel I got all of it.”

Yorkville's Jacob Cronshaw (8) reacts after hitting a two run single against West Aurora during a baseball game at Yorkville High School on Monday, April 15, 2024.

Yorkville coach Tom Cerven is never shocked at Yearsley’s power the opposite way, which he also showcased with a booming double to left-center.

“His strength to the opposite field is probably the best I’ve seen out of a high school kid,” Cerven said. “His ability to flick his wrists is incredible.”

Yorkville’s christening of its new field – turf infield, grass outfield – behind the high school was slightly delayed because of rainy April weather. But it opened on a sun-splashed Monday, the field with a huge red, white and black fox behind home plate and “Yorkville” and “Foxes” in white lettering down the baselines.

The opening, however, didn’t go off without a few fits and starts, much like Yorkville’s season thus far. The music didn’t go on to play the anthem, and on the first pitch Yorkville starter Carter Schaffner twisted his ankle and was forced to leave the game.

“A bit of an ominous start,” Cerven said.

But Preston Regnier, who started the game at catcher, stepped in and did solid work, allowing two earned runs over four innings with three strikeouts to allow Yorkville’s offense room to do the rest. It’s the second time this season Regnier has excelled when pressed into duty for a Foxes’ rotation hit hard by injury.

Yorkville is currently down three of its projected top four starters, with ace and Minnesota recruit Simon Skroch out for the season with a torn ligament in his leg. Regnier is also one of six catchers the Foxes have been forced to use this year.

“Credit to the guys for rallying. The way our season’s been going, it’s been a fluky season,” Cerven said. “Preston has been a little bit of a revelation this year. He popped a little in winter workouts. He was someone we were expecting to be a two or three-inning reliever and he has been pressed more into a starting role.”

Opening day of the new turf baseball field at Yorkville High School on Monday, April 15, 2024.

Jacob Cronshaw was 2 for 3 with a two-run single in the first inning and an RBI single in the fourth, Nate Harris reached base four times and scored four runs, and Daniel Rodriguez scored three times for Yorkville.

And the offense all started with Yearsley, who had some in the Yorkville dugout thinking would take first-homer honors.

“We did a vote on who would hit the first homer, and a lot of our team had Nate but some of the guys had me,” Yearsley said. “We probably could have both hit one if the wind was blowing out.”

West Aurora No. 9 hitter Cooper Matheny was 2 for 2 and reached base three times and starting pitcher Jake Niedzwiedz had two hits and three RBIs.

But the Blackhawks (7-6, 1-0) had to go to their bullpen trailing 8-5 in the fifth, and two relievers walked six and hit a batter. Sebastian Westphal’s two-run single, Yorkville’s only hit in a seven-run fifth, ended it.

“The problem we have is when we go to the bullpen we don’t know who is going to throw strikes right now, and that’s obviously not going to work against good teams,” West Aurora coach John Reeves said. “I thought we were hanging right there with them, defensive miscues stretch our pitcher out and we played a lot of games last week. We didn’t have guys that we could touch today. We got to throw strikes, that is the name of the game.”