By Matt Nestor
Prep Sports Reporter
Rockford Boylan Catholic and Rockton Hononegah are considered the top two teams in baseball in the NIC-10 conference this year.
Machesney Park Harlem knocked off one during their undefeated start to the conference season. They now have the other in their sights as they try to make an early statement in the conference race.
The Huskies banged out 12 hits, including three from Parker Anderson, as the Huskies overcame their first conference battle with one of the favorites, defeating the Hononegah Indians 9-3.
More importantly, the Huskies got a great pitching performance from Drake Robinson, who struck out seven Indians batters in the game.
“Defense and pitching have to be strong for anybody this year because runs are harder to come by than usual,” Harlem coach Doug Livingston said.
Earlier in the week, Livingston said the matchup with Hononegah would give a good indication of where his team stood early in the season. He said the Indians didn’t play their best game, but he was impressed with his team’s poise.
“I’m feeling pretty good right now,” he said. “But it’s about where I thought we would be at this point. There’s still improvements to do.”
The win leaves Harlem tied with Boylan for the lead in the NIC-10. The two teams will face off Friday, April 20, at Harlem, with the first pitch scheduled for 5 p.m.
The Titans got off to a slow start this season in the non-conference schedule, dropping eight games early. The conference favorites were looking like anything but a contending team.
But Boylan has righted themselves in the conference season thus far, getting their offense rolling while putting up 25 runs against Freeport, and following that off by holding off stiff challenges from Belvidere North and Guilford.
“The kids have no problem getting up for those games,” Livingston said about taking on the Titans. “A lot of people don’t realize, the day after we beat Hononegah, Jefferson had us no-hit for six innings and a couple of bloop hits late, and we came up with a win. Anyone can beat you in baseball on any given day.”
From the April 18-24, 2012, issue