SYCAMORE – One of Cody Simon’s objectives this summer was to take an outside pitch and go with it, to stop pulling the ball.
Thursday, the DeKalb County Liners’ utilityman made some significant progress on that goal.
Simon, a right-hander from Wright State University, hit an opposite-field home run in the first inning and then one to deep center in the third to help propel the Liners to an 8-2 win against the Chicago Zephyrs at Sycamore Park. The win gave the Liners (22-14) a 31⁄2-game lead in the North Division of the Midwest Collegiate League.
“They came off the barrel pretty good,” Simon said of both of his homers. “[Chicago pitcher Kyle Limanowski] was throwing outside. The wind was blowing out a little bit.”
Modesty aside, Simon’s pair of two-run homers easily cleared the fences, and both came on outside pitches.
“Especially in college, because a lot of pitchers like to go outside. So that’s one thing to work on,” said Simon, who also added that he doesn’t really like outside pitches. “It makes you a better hitter, because then they have to come inside.”
Simon’s first home run plated Joey Burney to give DeKalb County a 2-0 lead.
DeKalb High School alumnus Jake Jouris cut the Liners’ lead in half with an RBI double off the wall for the Zephyrs in the second. He later scored on a Peter Les single to tie the score at 2.
Simon’s second home run scored Brent Turner and came in DeKalb County’s four-run third inning that blew open the game. The Liners batted around in the third, sending 10 men to the plate and scratching across four runs on five hits.
Jouris, who was 2 for 2 on the night before being replaced in the fifth, reached base in the fourth on a single and advanced to third. He was called out at third base on an appeal after the umpire ruled Jouris left third too early on Zach Copple’s flyout to center.
Simon added a fifth RBI in the sixth on a sacrifice fly to score Turner.
That was all DeKalb County starter Brody Justice needed. Justice hurled a complete game, striking out four and allowing 10 hits. The left-hander allowed only three men to reach base in the final five innings.
DeKalb County continues its march toward a berth in the four-team MCL playoffs with a 7:05 p.m. home game today against Rockford.