Photo: John Hopkins fires toward the plate during Tuesday’s summer league twinbill at Batavia High School. The Knights recovered from a 3-1 loss in the first contest to take an 8-2 win. Photo by Mike Slodki
IHSA Summer Regional begins Monday, July 16
by Mike Slodki
BATAVIA—It’s the season for local baseball players to embody the “Boys of Summer” tag.
Kaneland’s baseball program saw its season end abruptly in the Class 3A regional opener against DeKalb in late May. But beginning on June 12, Knight players expected to contribute heavily in 2013 suited up to play in summer gear.
It’s not the hard-charging atmosphere where you treat every at-bat like your last, but it is important.
The summer season consists of 26 games over a month’s time, and has a modified routine.
Games against opponents like Sycamore, DeKalb, West Aurora and Streator litter the slate, with details like amount of games and innings hammered out well beforehand.
“It’s really important in the summer for these guys who are trying to make the team,” KHS assistant coach Alex Beckmann said. “We have a really big team and it’s important for guys to get at-bats and get some innings in.”
The situation on Tuesday in Batavia had the Knights and Bulldogs clashing in a doubleheader of five innings each, and the Knights came back with an 8-2 win in game two after losing 3-1 in the opener.
Pitching assignments have anything but an aim of a complete game, but are placed to give valuable arms work. In game two, Nick Stahl worked the first inning, John Hopkins took care of the second and third, and Tom VanBogaert finished the final two frames.
Tyler Carlson, an incoming junior, blasted a two-run double in the third inning to propel the Knights over the Bulldog lineup and put the game out of reach.
“I was looking for my pitch,” Carlson said. “I found it, fortunately. The guys got on base and I got to bring them in.”
Carlson is glad for the opportunity to man groundballs at second and get his cuts in at the plate in an environment that’s relaxed, but still focus-worthy.
“Facing these pitchers, it’s a good experience for me,” Carlson said.
The summer crew hosts Batavia in a seven-inning affair on Thursday, July 12. IHSA summer regionals begin on Monday, July 16.