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Huntley strikes early

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HUNTLEY – Four pitches.

That was all it took for Huntley to seize control in Tuesday’s Fox Valley Conference crossover baseball game against Hampshire.

The Red Raiders’ three NCAA Division I recruits at the top of an order that has been a bane to opposing pitchers jumped all over Hampshire from the start. Colin Lyman was hit by the first pitch from Whip-Purs right-hander Mike Dumoulin, and Mark Skonieczny singled sharply to left field on the next pitch.

Bryce Only then homered to right field on a 1-0 pitch for a three-run lead. Only always is willing to offer his pitcher some offensive support, and in this case, it was self-help.

Only allowed four hits in front of errorless defense and got plenty of offensive assistance as Huntley defeated Hampshire, 10-0, in six innings. The game was supposed to be played at Hampshire, but the Whips’ field was too wet, so it was moved to Huntley. The Raiders were considered the visitors, although it played into their favor.

“It is deflating,” Hampshire coach John Sarna said of the start. “... We wanted to challenge those guys with nobody on base.”

Lyman, Skonieczny and Only scored eight of Huntley’s 10 runs.

“That [start] was outstanding,” Huntley coach Andy Jakubowski said. “That gives us a cushion to work with and Bryce was lights out from there on out. The way he changed his pitches was great. He was able to spot his fastball and got better as the game went on.”

Only said he has not pitched since the eighth grade, but pitching coach Mike Hlavacek liked what he saw throwing inside before the season, so Only was added to the rotation.

Huntley is 9-0 overall, 3-0 in the FVC Valley Division and is averaging 11.3 runs a game.

“Colin and Mark did a good job of getting on and I was fortunate to get a pitch to drive,” Only said. “We always talk about our approach, as a team what we want to do. I was trying to hit a ball to the right side and I was fortunate enough to hit it hard.”

Only escaped trouble in the third inning when the Whips (3-3, 0-2 FVC Fox) loaded the bases for No. 5 hitter Tyler Crater. With a full count, Only was able to strike Crater out on a changeup. He retired 10 of the last 11 hitters he faced and struck out the side in the sixth.

“Coach [Hlavacek] called that pitch [to Crater], I just trusted that if[Crater] hit it, they’re going to make the play,” Only said. “Ijust try to let my defense work for me. They’re phenomenal.”

Jakubowski said it was the fifth game the Raiders played without committing an error. Lyman ran down R.J. Cosigny’s ball in left-center field on a diving catch in the first inning, possibly saving a run.

Huntley’s Nos. 2-6 hitters – Skonieczny, Only, Tyler Albright, Matt Sullivan and Tommy Kirkiakopoulos – got 12 of the Raiders’ 13 hits.

“Our approach as a team is staying up the middle, the other way, and we’re seeing the ball deep,” Skonieczny said. “Our hitting approach has been very good. Our pitching’s very strong right now and we’re all working together and hopefully we’ll get better from here.”

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