It was hard enough for South Elgin to keep Huntley right fielder Mark Skonieczny off base Saturday morning.
But when the Storm turned to Mother Nature in the fourth inning to help knock down a flyball Skonieczny hit to right field, Mother Nature rudely stepped in again.
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Skonieczny helped ignite a 2-run inning after reaching on an error to lead off the third, but his 2-run homer to right that fought through a 20 mph wind blowing from left field in helped Huntley stay hot in a 6-4 nonconference win over the Storm in Huntley.
Skonieczny was 1 for 3 with a walk, 3 runs scored, a stolen base and 2 RBI. He reached on errors twice as Huntley totaled 9 hits. The Red Raiders (3-0) have combined for 34 runs on 37 hits in 3 games this season and Huntley skipper Andy Jakubowski attributes it to an aggressive offseason regimen with his pitchers throwing live.
"I really like our offensive approach at the plate," Jakubowski said. "We just have to do a little bit better situational job but for the most part we're really pleased with the way our approach is -- our two-strike approach -- and guys are getting themselves in plus counts and they're doing a good job with it.
"They're staying up the middle, the other way, which we're preaching and they're doing a real nice job."
The knock to right by Skonieczny, his first of the season, was exactly that. He turned a fastball on the outside corner the other way, which kept carrying.
"(I) put it up in the jet stream," said Skonieczny, who also made a clutch grab in the seventh when the Storm threatened late. "I got a lot of that one. Putting it up in the wind out there, sometimes it'll carry, sometimes it'll come in. "
Huntley went up 2-0 in the first after a Colin Lyman leadoff double down the third-base line and a Skonieczny walk. After Bryce Only sacrificed the runners to second and third, Tyler Albright's (2-for-3) single to center scored 2 runs. Lyman was 2 for 3 with a walk and 2 runs scored and Albright had 2 hits and 2 RBI.
South Elgin (0-1) cut the lead in half in the second on Riley Halter's single up the middle but the Red Raiders tacked on 2 more runs in the third and fourth.
The Storm's Alex Wolfe was taken out after Skonieczny's homer after allowing 5 earned on 9 hits, 1 walk and 1 strikeout in 3 innings. But the Storm almost got him off the hook in the sixth when they put together a 3-run rally as Joe Crivolio (2-for-3) hit his second double of the day that shot the gap in left-center with two runners on to make it a 6-3 game.
A wild pitch scored Crivolio to make it a 2-run game but Nick Constantino came in and retired Tyler Christensen on a strikeout and then faced four batters in the seventh for a 4-out save to preserve a well-pitched performance by Tommy Regan (1-0), who allowed just 1 earned run on 5 hits, with 4 strikeouts and no walks in 5 innings. Huntley committed no errors but on the flip side, South Elgin committed 5.
"I'm obviously not happy with the outcome but I'm happy with our kids coming back, fighting to our last our, give us opportunities to win the game," said South Elgin coach Jim Kating. "For having our first game, I thought Alex pitched well, we didn't help him out defensively."