Baseball gets off to strong start


Deanna Walsh

Jared Cantu(’16) and Connor Walsh(’17) take the field

Connor Walsh , Co Sports editor

     The Belvidere North baseball team set a goal at the beginning of the season to win conference.  Six games into conference play, the team is playing like a contender.  

     The team had struggled through its first few games, but it has started the conference season 5-2 after the first two weeks.

     The conference opener was played against Harlem, who was picked to finish second by the Rockford Register Star.  The Blue Thunder dropped their first conference game of the season, losing 6-4.  

     A rough first inning hurt the Blue Thunder, as they gave up all six runs that inning.  Errors and walks are what hurt the team the most.  The team also struggled to hit early on, not recording a hit until the fourth inning.  

     Connor Walsh (‘17) opened the fourth with a leadoff single for the first hit of the game, and was followed by a Ben Clanin (‘17) infield single.  Austin Kroos (‘17) followed them up with a two RBI double to jump start the offense.  

     The team continued to put up good at bats through the sixth, going into the seventh inning trailing 6-2.  Good plate discipline by the Thunder led to the bases loaded.  The team was able to scratch out two more runs, but grounded into a double play to end the game.

     Looking to bounce back from the tough loss, the team took on Freeport at home.  Levon Smith (‘16) started the game for the Thunder, pitching the team to a 2-0 win.  Smith earned the complete game shutout, while striking out ten batters.  

     All of the offense of the game was to be had in the first inning, with again plate discipline being a key factor.  The team walked its way to a bases loaded situation, with Connor Walsh driving in the only two runs in the game with a 2 RBI single.  Jared Cantu (‘17) also had a good day at the plate, going 2-3.

     The team then took on Jefferson, an opponent who was 2-0 going into the game.  The Blue Thunder earned their second straight conference victory, winning 10-0 in five innings.

     David Raypole started the game for the Thunder, pitching all five innings while only giving up one hit.  The offensive showing was a good sign for a team who had been struggling to score runs.

     The team took on their biggest opponent yet, taking on Boylan at home.  In a battle of two top teams in conference, North pulled out a huge victory, winning 2-1.  The Blue Thunder was propelled to victory by a huge game by Smith.  Smith started the game on the mound for the Thunder, pitching the complete game while striking out ten.  Smith also won the game on a walk off single in the bottom of the seventh.  

     “It was an awesome feeling to win a game that huge,” said Smith, “Anytime you play
Boylan you know you’re going to have a good game

     Following their big win against Boylan, the team was looking to keep their momentum against Guilford.  The Blue Thunder won a back and forth game 10-5, with another huge game by Smith.  Smith went 3-3 with two RBI at the plate with two doubles and a home run to opposite field, and was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning.  Cantu also had a big day at the plate, going 2-4 with two RBI.  

     The team then took on Hononegah at home, who was picked to win the NIC-10 by the Register Star.  Hononegah was able to small ball their way into a 10-2 victory.  The Indians had an eight run second inning, while only hitting two balls out of the infield.  North made six errors in the second inning alone, as walks and errors gave Hononegah a chance, and they capitalized.  North also struggled at the plate, with their only extra base hit coming off a Evan Waddell (‘18) triple.

     Looking to bounce back from their tough loss against Hononegah, North took on crosstown rivals Belvidere.  The team jumped out to a big lead in the first inning and never looked back, winning 12-2.  Smith again had a huge game for the Thunder, going 3-4 with a solo home run.  Smith also started the game for the Thunder, pitching three innings and giving up two runs, while striking out five.  Cantu and Waddell also added three hits each to the offensive attack, with Cantu adding two RBI.

     The team has two games left in the first half of conference play, with East and Auburn left to play.  

     “This is a big week for us,” said Garrett Nelson (‘17) “If we win all three games, we’re in a good position for the second half.”