DeKALB – The DeKalb baseball team had only practiced outside a handful of times leading up Monday’s contest against Hampshire.
It was the season opener for both teams, as like other programs throughout northern Illinois, they’ve had nonconference games wiped out because of the wintery weather.
It was the first time the Barbs were able to use the infield at Dave Pettengell Field on the DeKalb campus. That didn’t seem to show too much with DeKalb’s defense, as the Barbs had an errorless game in a 7-5 win over the Whip-Purs.
“I thought defensively we were fantastic,” Barbs coach Jake Howells said. “... We didn’t make any spectacular plays. But I don’t need us to make spectacular plays, just give me the routine outs all the time.”
DeKalb (1-0) senior shortstop Jared Johnson made five putouts behind three Barbs pitchers – starter Zach Moan, Jake Cook and Austin Hop. Moan threw 51/3 innings, gave up three earned runs and got the win, while Hop recorded the save.
Johnson didn’t think using the DHS infield for the first time was too big of deal in his case.
“I’m used to it, being here so long,” Johnson said. “I’m kind of used to the infield. Newer guys, they’re not used to it.”
Although the Barbs at least had some time to play on grass, Hampshire (0-1) hadn’t had the luxury at all. Monday was the first time all spring the Whip-Purs played or practiced on grass.
There was some rust, with Hampshire committing three errors.
“It obviously showed defensively,” Hampshire coach John Sarna said. “That’s where I think we’re going to have to improve. We just weren’t able to make a couple of routine plays that we’re going to have to make in order to be successful.”
Whip-Purs starter Andrew Brown held the Barbs scoreless for the first three innings, but the DeKalb bats broke through in the fourth, when designated hitter John Crosby picked up two RBIs, with Johnson and center fielder Josh Snead adding one apiece.
DeKalb added three runs in the fifth with RBIs from Crosby and Patrick Aves. Jake Kuykendall took home on a double-steal attempt with Snead stealing second.
Crosby finished 2 for 3 with three RBIs while Kuykendall was 2 for 3 with two runs scored. Logan Haring also was 2 for 3 with a double and two runs scored and Johnson had two hits, including a double.
For the Barbs, who had their season opener delayed until the last day of March, it was nice just to get back out on the field.
“Sitting in school (today), you couldn’t even think really, besides baseball,” Johnson said. “You’re checking your scores, it’s Opening Day (in Major League Baseball). You just get pumped up.”