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updated: 4/9/2014 10:32 PM

On command and in demand, Noda delivers for Grant

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The home run wasn't necessarily Ruthian. Nor was it a called shot.

Or was it, Ryan Noda?

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"Yes and no," the senior left-handed slugger said with a smile after his 3-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the sixth inning gave Grant a 13-3 win over visiting Round Lake in a North Suburban Prairie Division game Wednesday.

"Mostly, I just wanted to hit the ball hard."

With Grant (8-0, 2-0) leading 10-3 in its half of the sixth, Noda stood in the on-deck circle. Nick Heidenthal was on first base after being hit by a pitch, and Simeon Lucas had just worked the count to 3-1.

"We need three (runs to end the game), right?" Noda said, looking at teammate Will Zitkus in the dugout.

Lucas took ball four on the next pitch. Up stepped Noda, who looked at two pitches out of the zone and then, sure enough, belted a Mauricio Tovar fastball over the fence in right field for his third home run of the season.

"I was just thinking about hitting the ball hard," insisted Noda, who's tied with Lucas for the team lead in homers. "It just ended up going far (smiling), I guess."

Noda finished 2-for-2 with 5 RBI, 4 runs scored, 2 stolen bases and a walk. He was also hit by a pitch. His two-run triple to deep left-center off Panthers starter Ryan Newman started the scoring in the first.

Several professional scouts were on hand again to watch Lucas, the hard-hitting catcher who's signed with Illinois State. Noda is an intriguing prospect, too, although he is also signed to play in college (with Cincinnati).

"Look at them," Grant coach Dave Behm said of his two veterans, both of whom started on the Bulldogs' 2012 team that finished third in the state in Class 4A. "They're both 6-2, 6-3, left-handed (hitters), big frames, great swings. What's not to like?"

"Mostly (the scouts come) to see him," Noda said of Lucas. "I'm not really looking to go (play professionally) straight out of high school. I wouldn't want to (get drafted). I'm set on going to school."

In the meantime, Noda is focused on helping Grant win baseball games. The Bulldogs benefitted from some good fortune in the first inning to go up 3-0. Newman, Round Lake's four-year varsity player, was the victim, as a dropped exchange on a potential groundball double play was dropped, resulting in only one out being recorded.

Lucas (1-for-3) then hit a sky-high flyball to left field that was misplayed and fell for a single.

"It seems like when Newman pitches, he gets some bad luck," Round Lake coach Ed Adamson said. "We just got to do a better job of playing defense behind him."

As he did in the first, Newman walked the leadoff batter to start the third. Tino Torres (3 RBI) knocked in a pair of runs with a double deep into the left-field corner, and an infield error hiked the home team's lead to 6-2.

Grant added four more runs in the fifth, getting a two-run single from Zitkus (2-for-3, double), while an RBI single from Matt Malmberg (2-for-3) ended Newman's day on the mound.

Ryan Mason also had a double for Grant.

Newman's got some good stuff," Adamson said. "We just have to stop giving teams extra outs, especially with as good a hitting team Grant is."

Round Lake (2-4, 0-2) got its runs on Tyler Sanchez's two-run double. Joey Theobald also doubled and Newman for 2-for-3 for the Panthers, who otherwise did little damage against Grant starting pitcher Eddie Kusiak. The junior righty, who picked up his first varsity win last Saturday against Wilmot (Wis.), won again on just three-days rest, pitching 5 innings.

Kusiak allowed 7 hits and hit a batter, but struck out five and didn't walk anyone.

"He did a nice job," Behm said. "He just went after guys."

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