Baseball: Libertyville stays centered in victory at Waukegan
A southwest wind howling out and the mere 344 feet to the fence in center field invited eager baseball hitters at Weiss Field.
Libertyville's Dan Marks accepted the invitation. And he wasn't the only Wildcat who did.
"It's hard to stay up the middle and try to hit to the right side here," Marks said. "You just got to look center and away, and you got to hit it hard. And it'll do something."
The ball jumped off Marks' bat in the third inning of Libertyville's 15-4 win over host Waukegan in Game 1 of a North Suburban Conference doubleheader on Saturday. The ball easily cleared the fence in center field for Marks' first home run of the season, Nick Angel's blast to left made it back-to-back homers for the Wildcats, and the fun was on.
Hot-hitting Brant Kym and Jackson Petersen also homered for Libertyville. Jackson belted a 3-run shot, and Tommy Rigali went deep as well in Game 2, making it six homers on the day for the Wildcats, as they completed the sweep with a 19-5 win to improve to 11-3 and 5-1 in the NSC.
"Some of the guys had good approaches, and with some of the guys it didn't look that way," Libertyville coach Matt Thompson said after his team pounded out 17 hits in the opener, before smacking 17 more in the second game. "But it was nice to come out and get some (pitches) lifted."
Thompson said the top-five hitters in his batting order -- Micah Holzworth, Kym, Marks, Angel and Petersen -- have hit the ball consistently well all season, and that continued against a winless Waukegan team that fell to 0-5 in the NSC.
"Young and inexperienced," Waukegan coach Dan Green said of his Bulldogs, who last year boasted hard-throwing righty Jean Casanova (35th-round draft pick of the Texas Rangers).
Kym went 4-for-4 with 3 RBI in the opener and 2-for-3 in Game 2. Holzworth was 2-for-4 with a double in Game 1, while Angel finished 3-for-5 (a triple shy of the cycle). Petersen also singled in the first game.
Despite the cozy dimensions in center and left field (339 to the power alley), the Hope College-bound Kym focused on not overswinging.
"You just try to keep the same swing," Kym said. "It's a lot easier to hit a home run here, but you don't think about that really."
In Game 1, Kym doubled in the first, singled in the third and fourth and pulled a two-run homer to left in the sixth.
"I thought I put a decent swing on it," Kym said of his first homer of the season. "But I thought I hit my double a little better."
The Rockhurst-bound Marks nearly hit another homer in the sixth. He settled for a double after his flyball hit the base of the fence in left field.
"I thought it was a popup, at first," Marks said. "But this wind is just howling."
Libertyville's other offensive contributors in Game 2 included Angel (2-for-2), Game-1 starter Collin Fields (2-for-3), Luke Plunkett (2-for-3, triple), Tim Jean (double), Marks (double) and Griffin Murphy (double). Rigali was a combined 4-for-6 with 5 RBI on the day.
Waukegan got doubles from Davonta Cantu and Kyle Fransk in Game 1. Cantu homered in the second game.
"It's deep everywhere else, (except to left-center and center)," Green said of his team's field, which is 332 and 343 feet down the left- and right-field lines, respectively, and 378 feet to right-center. "I've seen two guys in 12 years hit one out to right field."