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Heartland streak moves to 22
 April 17, 2013

by Jack Warren, CornbeltBaseball.com editor

The last time the Heartland Community College baseball team tasted defeat was almost one month ago during the first game of a doubleheader at Rend Lake College. Rend Lake came to town on Tuesday, hoping to derail a Hawk team that has strung together 20 wins since they last met on March 19. It wouldn’t be an easy task for the Hawks, as RLC was coming in at 28-11 and always one of the tougher D1 JUCO teams in the region. After a very short afternoon, however, the Hawk pitching staff proved to be too much for the Warriors, and Heartland ended the day with a winning streak stretched to 22 games.

Trevor Storie (3-0) got things started for the Hawks in game one, throwing 4 2/3 innings of one hit ball, striking out three, and walking an uncharacteristic four. John Spoelstra came in for 1 1/3 innings, allowing one hit and no runs. Ryan Byrne pitched the final frame, allowing no runs on one hit, while striking out two.

The Hawks got all the runs they needed in the first inning, pushing two across. They added one more in the sixth for the final margin of 3-0. Heartland could manage only five hits, but that was more than enough – at least for the win. Assistant coach Ryan Knox wasn’t impressed. When asked about the game one win, all he could manage was “eh” – proving that unless this is the clinching game of the World Series, a coach is never truly satisfied.

Evan Natick led the charge offensively for the Hawks, going 2 for 3 with two runs and a double. Cody Dykema went 1 for 3 with two RBI.

Game two found the Heartland bats a little more to Coach Knox’s liking, as the Hawks rapped out 10 hits on their way to an 8-0 win.

Drew Clark has had perhaps the hottest Hawk bat of late. Game two saw Clark go 3 for 4 with two runs, three RBI, and a home run. Evan Natick went 1 for 2 with two runs and a stolen base. Andrew McCafferty went 1 for 4 with two runs and two stolen bases. Phil Toldo went 1 for 3 with one run, one RBI, and one stolen base.

Frank Waliczek (4-0) got the start for the Hawks and went five strong innings, allowing no runs on only two hits, while striking out four and walking none. Josh Eplin and Trey Rogers both pitched one inning and both had one strike out and no walks. Pitching coach Josh Kauten was pleased with his pitchers’ approach, going right at the hitters. For the game, the Heartland staff struck out six while walking none.

After game two, pitching coach Josh Kauten was smiling broadly, and it was easy to see why given what his staff has been doing lately. He said, “I want my guys to attack the hitters – make them beat us with hits, not walks.” Ryan Knox even managed a slight smile, adding “That’s more like it.”

Head coach Nate Metzger added, “I’m just really proud of the way our pitching staff has come together and continue to push each other. We had a couple big innings again that propelled us an overall.”

The Hawks flashed some serious leather today, with Andrew McCafferty making a SportsCenter worthy diving catch in right field and Evan Bloomfield and Chad Klein demonstrating some great hand-eye coordination at the hot corner. Cody Dykema was both steady and spectacular at shortstop all day long.

Coach Metzger looks ahead, noting that, “We need to carry over what we did today into an important weekend series in the MWAC with Lincoln Land.” Given what we’ve seen the last few weeks, that shouldn’t be a problem.

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