HAMPSHIRE – Jacobs pitcher Nick Ledinsky wasn’t sure what to expect.
When the catcher he had been paired with all season went down with an injury, and the backup catcher wasn’t available, that left inexperienced junior Tim Hubner to call his pitches.
But Hubner performed, Ledinsky adapted, and the Golden Eagles downed Hampshire, 4-1, in a Fox Valley Conference crossover game Saturday.
Starting catcher Greg Sidor exited the game in the third inning with a jammed thumb on his nonthrowing hand, and backup catcher Aaron Meciej was already in the game as Ledinsky’s designated hitter.
“When that injury happened I had to bring in a guy that probably has caught twice in his life,” Jacobs coach Jamie Murray said. “When you’re used to a guy, and some new guy comes in ... the rhythm is not necessarily there. Tim did a did a nice job coming in.”
Ledinsky struck out six, walked one and allowed no earned runs on four hits in a complete game for Jacobs (9-1 overall, 2-0 FVC Valley).
“It was a little bit different,” Ledinsky said of Hubner behind the plate. “I’m not used to how he calls the game, but as the game progressed, I got used to it.”
Hampshire leadoff hitter Piotr Barnas (1 for 2) reached on an infield error in the first inning and scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Michael Laramie for an early lead that the Whip-Purs (3-5, 0-5 FVC Fox) failed to build on.
“We had opportunities,” Hampshire coach John Sarna said. “We got picked off at second twice, and that didn’t help. When you’re in a tight ballgame, you can’t make those mistakes, and we did.”
Matt Hickey (1 for 2) bunted to load the bases in the top of the second for Jacobs, and Connor Conzelmann scored Aaron Meciej on a sacrifice fly to center field that tied the score. Jon Berndt scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball.
Conzelmann, a senior outfielder, struck again in the fourth inning, when he drove in Aaron Traub, and he crushed a ball to deep center field in the seventh inning. He finished 2 for 3 with two RBIs and two doubles.
Even with Ledinsky’s pitch count starting to soar and Hampshire threatening in the bottom of the seventh, Murray remained confident in his starting pitcher and Hubner.
“We have six guys that can start, and we’ve used six different starters this year,” Murray said. “We weren’t nervous. Nick’s been in big games for us for the last year and a half.”
Hampshire starter Danny Keller struck out three, walked three and allowed three earned runs on five hits in six innings, but Sarna was proud that he quieted the bats of Jacobs’ No. 3 and No. 4 hitters, Kale and Ben Murray (0-4).
“I coached both those guys when they were freshmen, and they love to go to the opposite field,” Sarna said. “So we wanted to go in on their hands, and we did a good job. We just beat ourselves today.”