McHENRY – Huntley’s Eli Paplanus usually starts games on the mound, so the senior isn’t too accustomed to entering a dirty inning.
With two runners on base and one run already in, Paplanus replaced Huntley starter Jimmy Fairley with two outs in the third inning. McHenry’s Trevor Rockweiler grounded out to Paplanus to end the inning without any further damage.
“Coming into the middle of that inning was a little weird, but we got out of it and just went from there,” Paplanus said.
Paplanus cruised through 4 1/3 scoreless innings, and Huntley scored twice more to break the tie in a 5-3 Red Raiders win in Fox Valley Conference play.
Paplanus earned the win and allowed only two hits. He struck out two and walked none.
“Eli gave us a chance to come back and go win this ballgame,” Huntley coach Andy Jakubowski said. “Jimmy pitched extremely well, too. He got a lot of ground balls, and we weren’t able to make some plays early. We overcame adversity and figured it out on the defensive end.”
Huntley (12-4, 6-2 FVC) jumped ahead with three runs in the top of the first. Two walks came around to score. Huntley’s Jason Peters hit an RBI double.
Then two errors cost the Red Raiders in the bottom of the first. McHenry (9-5, 4-3) scored two unearned runs to pull back within a run. The Warriors tied it at 3 in the third on Cam Begley’s RBI single.
Huntley took the lead for good on a wild pitch in the sixth and added an insurance run on an Evan Tocmo single in the seventh.
“I’m proud of our guys in terms of, we struggled defensively and we were able to overcome that,” Jakubowski said. “That’s a positive to take away from today.”
McHenry sophomore starting pitcher Jaedin Kotecki settled in after allowing three runs in the first inning. Although he allowed five total runs and took the loss, Kotecki rebounded with four straight scoreless innings after the first.
McHenry coach Brian Rockweiler called Saturday’s start Kotecki’s “best outing” so far this season.
“He’s got good enough stuff, and we’ve been telling him that all year. It’s just a matter of him trusting it,” Brian Rockweiler said. “Today, he finally trusted it a little bit and threw the ball well.”
Kotecki said his changeup and his two-seam fastball were keeping hitters off-balance. The sophomore was throwing to another sophomore, catcher Trevor Rockweiler.
Kotecki hasn’t shied away from the varsity spotlight.
“You’ve just got to be tough and work hard because they’ve all been here, and you’ve got to earn your spot, especially when you’re younger,” Kotecki said.
McHenry stranded seven runners in the game.
“We hit the ball pretty well, for the most part, but we didn’t get that big hit in a couple innings when we needed it,” Brian Rockweiler said. “We hit the ball hard, just right at people. That happens sometimes.”
Huntley took the opening game of the teams' three-game series, 6-2, Thursday. The Red Raiders will go for the sweep at 4:30 p.m. Monday at Petersen Park in McHenry.
STAR OF THE GAME
Eli Paplanus, Huntley, sr., P
Paplanus usually starts games, but Saturday he entered a tied contest in the third inning and pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings in relief. Paplanus struck out two and allowed two hits, earning the win.
5: Five of Saturday’s eight runs were scored in the first inning. Huntley scored three in the top half before McHenry answered with two in the bottom.
AND ANOTHER THING …
McHenry shortstop Carter Foat went 3 for 4 with a run scored and played a flawless game at shortstop for the Warriors.