COLUMBIA – When Hickman catcher Colby Fitch stepped up to the plate in the fifth inning of Tuesday's game against visiting St. Charles, he wasn't sure what sort of pitch to expect.
Fitch was hit by a pitch from St. Charles' Tim Evans in the second inning before being walked in the third. In the first four innings of the game, Evans threw a total of eight walks and hit three batters, allowing the Kewpies to jump out to a 7-2 lead.
Now back up to face St. Charles' reliever Jack Gallagher, Fitch watched the pitch carefully as it traveled toward the plate before hitting it hard for a single. His hit started a fifth-inning hitting outburst that allowed Hickman to pull away to a commanding 11-3 victory.
In a game where the vast majority of pitches landed outside the strike zone, Fitch said it is important to not dwell on previous at-bats where there were few strikes to swing at.
"Baseball's a game of short-term memory," Fitch said. "You let it go. It's a new at-bat. You've just got to be ready for every pitch."
Hickman junior first baseman Jared Hyler was the first Kewpies player to be hit by a pitch Tuesday when Evans struck his left forearm in the first inning. Like Fitch, Hyler said getting hit isn't an excuse for losing concentration during future at-bats.
"There's no flinch," Hyler said. "I'm just waiting for the next pitch to hit and a way to put it in play."
Hickman coach Dan Devine Jr. said remaining calm and focused when the other team is pitching poorly is one of the team's main focuses.
"One of the things that we've talked about all year is having good at-bats," Devine said. "We really stress swinging at strikes and not expanding out of your strike zone, and you just have to be disciplined to do that."
Aside from adjusting to St. Charles' erratic pitching, Hickman took full advantage of the base-running opportunities for the team's walked batters.
Hickman senior Sam Wright did his signature "hyeahh!" cowboy cheer as teammate Jordan See stole second base in the fourth inning. See went on to steal third before being driven in by senior Cody Gordon. The Kewpies stole a total of eight bases in the game.
The Kewpies (15-8) play next at 4:3o p.m. Wednesday at home against Wentzville Holt.
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder