HUNTLEY – One good swing was all Huntley needed, and leadoff man Ryan Bakes was happy to be the one who provided it.
Bakes lost his battle against Maine South’s Drew Koenen in the first inning Tuesday, striking out on three fastballs. The analytical hitter that he is, Bakes thought Koenen might do that again when they faced each other in the third inning.
“I have never seen three straight fastballs to get me out,” Bakes said. “I was not expecting that. I give that one to him. He beat me there. I said, ‘He gave me three, I’m going to sit on his first one.’ I knew it was coming. It was pretty high, I’m surprised I hit it.”
Bakes ripped a solo home run over the left field fence, and Huntley pitchers Malachi Paplanus, Derek Huber and Jerermy Jaehnig combined for 12 strikeouts as the Red Raiders won their nonconference game 1-0.
Koenen, who will pitch at Dartmouth next year, was tough, allowing four hits and striking out five over five innings. But Huntley’s trio made certain that Bakes’ shot was enough.
“They were outstanding. We always talk about pitching and defense, and it showed today,” Raiders coach Andy Jakubowski said. “We only got one run, and that’s not like us. We had to find a way to get it done, and it was pitching and defense. All three of them did well.”
Paplanus was cruising in the fourth inning, having just reached six strikeouts by whiffing his third batter in a row when he felt something in his right (throwing) elbow. He fanned his fingers in and out and called Jakubowski to the mound, then handed him the ball.
Huntley (5-0) hopes the NCAA Division I Wright State commit just has a muscle strain or pinched nerve.
“I was having a couple days where my elbow was tight and sore. It felt fine when I was throwing today,” Paplanus said. “Then on one of the fastballs I felt a little pop. I still have feeling in my hand. That’s a good sign, that means there’s nothing wrong with my UCL. It’s probably just muscle irritation or a pinched nerve maybe. Something along those lines.”
Paplanus said he had figured out how to pitch the Hawks’ batters and had settled into a nice rhythm with two outs in the top of the fourth inning. Huber received all the time he needed to warm up and allowed a single and a walk before ending the inning with a strikeout.
“They’re a very aggressive team, so my change-up was a big piece of that,” said Huber, who threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out four and allowing two hits. “My slider was effective to righties. I didn’t have my good curveball today. I used my change-up, slider and fastball and used their aggressiveness against them.”
Huber went to the bullpen mound after the fourth was over and did some more warmups with crow-hop throws and threw five of each of his pitches before the fifth. Jaehnig struck out two and allowed a walk in the seventh.
“It was really one mistake to the Bakes kid,” Hawks coach Brian Lorenz said. “You can’t make a mistake to that kid. It’s a fastball inside, and he tattooed it. That was the difference in the game. That was it.
“We didn’t have timely hitting. Their pitchers kind of dominated us. You can’t strike out 12 times and expect to win. But that’s how it goes.”
Koenen said after getting Bakes, who will play at South Carolina, in the first inning, he wanted to challenge him again.
“I got him on three fastballs the first time, and I tried to challenge him again, and I left it too far up and in and he crushed it,” Koenen said. “I was attacking with fastballs mostly. I was trying to just attack the zone and make the hitters beat me. They got a couple hits, but I think attacking was what helped me.”
Paplanus, a junior, left Tuesday and was going to have an orthopedic surgeon examine his arm.
“We hope it’s just a strain,” Jakubowski said. “He threw a pitch and felt a little tingling, and let’s go shut it down. The trainer thinks maybe it’s a nerve or a little strain. Hopefully, it’s nothing too alarming.”
Huntley 1, Maine South 0
Maine South 000 000 0 – 0 5 0
Huntley 001 000 x – 1 4 0
WP: Malachi Paplanus, 1-0 (3.2IP, 3H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 6K. Save: Jeremy Jaehnig. LP: Drew Koenen (5IP, 4H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 5K).
Top hitters–Maine South: Joe Ward 2-3. Huntley: Ryan Bakes 2-3 (HR, RBI).