Were the high school baseball season a chemistry test, Huntley and Wheaton Warrenville South might be accused of copying the other's formula.
Both teams possess solid starting pitching and some slick fielders, but run production is a question mark for each this spring, particularly Huntley, which graduated a leadoff hitter to Louisville and a power hitter to Nebraska.
The remaining elements in Huntley's lineup nevertheless yielded a positive reaction in Thursday's nonconference game. The Red Raiders grinded out quality at-bats against hard-throwing right-hander Connor Ostrander, and three pitchers combined to shut out the visiting Tigers 3-0 on 7 hits.
Offensively, WW South (1-3) missed chances early. In the first three innings alone the Tigers stranded 5 runners (3 in scoring position), had a runner picked off second with the bases loaded and one out and had a runner tagged out in a rundown after he tried to stretch a double into a triple.
"We're not the kind of offense that's going to put a bunch of runs up, so when we have those chances we have to take advantage of them," Wheaton Warrenville South coach Tim Brylka said. "Those were great opportunities. We'll get there. It's early yet."
Ostrander (0-2) did not allow a hit until Illinois-bound Mark Skonieczny led off the bottom of the fourth inning in a scoreless game. Huntley's catcher worked the count full, then fouled off three fastballs. Finally, he got a pitch to handle and lined a triple to the wall in right center.
"I tried to see the ball deeper and extend the at-bat a little bit, extend his pitch count," Skonieczny said. "Luckily, he gave me a pitch up and I did what I could with it."
"Good teams will keep fighting," said Ostrander, committed to play football at Drake. "I just have to win those battles."
Ensuing cleanup hitter Tommy Kiriakopoulos fell behind Ostrander 0-2, but he jumped on a mistake and laced a single up the middle to break the ice.
"We preach here that with a runner on third and less than two outs you want to send a ball up the gaps or play a little pepper with the middle," said Kiriakopoulos, Huntley's first baseman. "Luckily, he gave me a fastball over the middle, so I stayed back and took it right back where it came from."
More quality at-bats and proper execution provided Huntley some cushion in the sixth. No. 5 hitter Bobby Hecker and No. 6 hitter Trevor Symbal delivered consecutive hit-and-run singles through the vacated hole at shortstop. Symbal's knock scored Skonieczny, who singled to lead off the inning.
That was the end for Ostrander, who allowed 3 earned runs on 5 hits, walked a batter and struck out 7. He was charged with a third run when pinch hitter Robert Thomm drew a bases-loaded walk against reliever Nate Roskuszka.
Huntley starting pitcher Jake Ciskowski did not figure in the decision. He allowed 7 hits in 3⅔ scoreless innings. Kyle Sabie (2-0) earned his second relief win this season by tossing 2⅓ perfect innings with 4 strikeouts.
"I just pounded the strike zone and made sure my stuff was working," Sabie said. "My curveball was on, so it was good."
Senior Adam Kalish struck out two batters in a perfect seventh inning to record his fourth save.
"That was probably our toughest game yet," Kalish said. "It was a grind scoring runs, but our pitching was phenomenal as usual."