North baseball in the hunt

Connor Walsh, Co-Sports Editor

     The Belvidere North baseball team has had high hopes for this season for years.  With seven seniors on the roster, four of them being three year varsity players, and ten returning players from last years squad who took third in conference, this team is loaded with varsity experience.  While the losses of all conference players Levon Smith, Jared Cantu, and Jordan Paulson to graduation are big ones, there is plenty of talent still on the roster.  So much so that they were picked to win the first conference championship in the school’s history.

     The Thunder opened up their pursuit for their championship against Guilford on April 10, with Garrett Nelson(‘17) on the mound.  Nelson pitched a dominant outing, going six and a third innings, allowing two runs to go along with nine strikeouts.  Adam Veruchi(‘17) came in for the two out save, nailing down a 3-2 Belvidere North Victory.  North’s offence was given RBI’s by Evan Waddell (‘18), Brock Ashens (‘20), and Holden Paddock (‘20).  

     The team then hosted Harlem, the reigning NIC-10 champions on April 12, looking to make an early statement in the conference.  The Thunder small balled their way to a 5-1 victory over the Huskies, with a majority of their runs coming off of bunts.  Arthur Vinke (‘18) pitched a gem, throwing all seven innings.  Vinke pitched to contact all day, only striking out one batter all game.  The Thunder was going up against pitcher Jake Nimtz (‘17), who had earned all conference honors for three straight years for the Huskies.  Beating one of the top pitchers in the conference was a statement to the rest of the NIC-10 that this team was no joke.  

     The team looked to continue their winning streak on April 13 against Freeport, a team who had split their first two games of the conference season.  Walks and errors haunted the Thunder all day, as they dropped a 4-3 loss to the Pretzels.  The team came back in the last inning, scoring two runs.  They couldn’t score the tying run despite having the bases loaded with only one out.

     To begin the second week of conference, the team took on Auburn on Monday and Jefferson on Wednesday, getting wins against both teams.  The team took down Auburn 5-1 and Jefferson 13-5, beating two of the bottom teams in the conference.  

     The Thunder took on crosstown rival Belvidere on April 21, looking to show that they were the best team in town.  While they played a sloppy game defensively, they were able to pull out a 6-5 victory in extra innings.  Waddell started the game on the mound for the Thunder, while Vinke came in relief.  Kyle Perkins (‘17) walked off the game with a single through the left side.  

     The Thunder are in an important time in the schedule, needing to win big games in order to contend for the elusive conference championship.