Huntley senior Bryce Only is rightfully known for his powerful swing, but opponents are also learning to respect his potent right arm.
A four-year varsity starter committed to Nebraska, Only hammered the fifth pitch of Tuesday's baseball game against Hampshire for a 3-run home run to right field. In his second career start on the mound, he used 93 pitches to complete a 4-hit shutout as the Red Raiders defeated Hampshire 10-0 in a six-inning Fox Valley Conference crossover.
The victory improved Huntley to 9-0 overall, 3-0 in the Fox Valley Conference. It marked the seventh time in 9 games the team has scored 9 or more runs.
"Yeah, we're not drinking the Kool-Aid, though," Only said of his team's unblemished record. "We just want to get better every day and stay on top of it. We know what we have to work on to get better. Even though we won 10-0, there are still a lot of things to work on."
Huntley, the visiting team on its home field due to a venue switch, wasted no time jumping on Hampshire starting pitcher Michael Dumoulin (1-1), who nicked Huntley leadoff man Colin Lyman with his second pitch of the game.
Illinois-bound Mark Skonieczny subsequently drilled the first pitch he saw for a single to left field. That set the stage for Only, a right-handed hitter who sent a 1-0 fastball on the outer portion of the plate over the fence in right-center field.
"Colin and Mark did a great job getting on and I was fortunate to get a pitch to drive," said Only, who went 3-for-4 with 4 RBI. "We always talk about our approach as a team and what we want to do with runners in scoring position or when there's a runner at first. I was fortunate to hit it hard and get it up in the air."
A first-inning RBI single from Tommy Kiriakopolus (3-for-4, 2 RBI) staked Only to a 4-0 lead and he did the rest, limiting Hampshire (3-3, 0-2) to 4 hits and 3 walks while striking out 7.
Hampshire's best scoring chance came in the bottom of the third inning, when the Whip-Purs loaded the bases on a single by RJ Consigny sandwiched between walks by Mike Merchut and Mike Laramie. However, Only escaped by getting Hampshire No. 5 hitter Tyler Crater to swing ahead of a 2-2 changeup.
"He had his changeup working once again, which is the dominant pitch for him," Huntley coach Andy Jakubowski said. "He got his curveball over more, he was able to spot his fastball and he got better as the game went on, as evidenced by that (sixth) inning."
Only (2-0) struck out the side in the sixth inning to end the game after Huntley had scored 5 more runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
"That's a good program, a well-coached program with three Division-I hitters up there," Hampshire coach John Sarna said. "We just gave them too many runs. We spotted them 4 runs in the first inning, 5 by the second. We started to settle down, but we dug ourselves too big of a hole."