Longball carries inspired Kewpies

After rallying to beat St. Charles, Hickman hits four home runs against Vianney to earn sweep.
Sunday, May 9, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 3:16 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hickman had a little more reason to play hard Saturday.

After outfielder Tyler Jones’ father, Gary Jones, died Thursday, the Kewpies pulled together to win 5-3 against St. Charles and 11-0 against Vianney at Hickman Field.

“These guys were rallying around Tyler and really came together as a team,” Hickman coach Kent Fewell said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the group right now.”

Jones started Hickman’s offense against Vianney with a first-inning double to the left-field gap. He scored on Blake Tekotte’s home run. It was one of four home runs the Kewpies (11-6) hit over the tall left-field fence. Joe Gaboury followed with a sacrifice fly to score Justin Jackson and give Hickman a 3-0 lead.

Gaboury led off the fourth with a home run to push Hickman’s lead to 4-0. After the next two batters lined out, the Kewpies began a seven-run rally.

Matt Schwartz and Jake Unger hit back-to-back doubles to put the Kewpies up 5-0. After Jones reached on an infield single, pitcher Kyle Smith hit his first home run of the year for an 8-0 Hickman lead.

“They were making a lot of jokes about me,” Smith said. “I don’t have a lot of power usually.”

Smith’s home run chased Vianney starter Nick Becker. Ryan Harris came in to pitch, walked Tekotte and gave up a home run to Jackson to give Hickman a 10-0 lead.

“This is a home run ballpark,” Fewell said. “We’ve got to take advantage of it, and hopefully we hit two or three a game.”

Vianney’s defense collapsed after Jackson’s home run.

Gaboury doubled off the wall, went to third on a passed ball and scored on third baseman Jim Klocke’s error.

Smith allowed one hit in five innings and struck out five.

“It looked a lot better probably than it really was,” Smith said. “I didn’t really have good control but it all worked out.”

With Smith, the regular shortstop, on the mound, Hickman used an unusual defensive alignment.

Nick Steponovich caught both games of the doubleheader, which moved Jackson to third base. Tekotte moved from center field to shortstop, and made several good plays at his new position.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been there,” Tekotte said. “It’s good to come in when Kyle’s pitching and try to take over things. It keeps me a little more active on the infield.”

The game ended after the top of the fifth because of the 10-run rule. Hickman had been scheduled to play Vianney at last weekend’s Columbia Tournament, which was rained out.

Hickman pitcher Zach Heath tied the early game against St. Charles at 3 in the fourth when his single drove in Gaboury.

Hickman took a 5-3 lead in the sixth when Eric Schultz and Ryan Nesbitt hit RBI singles.

Heath gave up six hits in seven innings, allowing a three-run home run to Jonathan Wilson in the third.

A rib injury sidelined Heath early in the season.

“I didn’t have a lot of velocity on my fastball but everything was moving pretty well,” Heath said. “I felt strong for the first time all year.”

Smith’s double in the third drove in Steponovich to start Hickman’s scoring, and Jackson followed with a single to cut the Pirates’ lead to 3-2.

With a week to go before the district championships, Fewell said his team was heating up at the right time.

“I think we just wanted to win these two games today more than we have all year,” Fewell said.

Tekotte agreed that the Kewpies had extra motivation for the team’s doubleheader sweep.

“Everybody was just trying to come out and play hard and do it for Tyler and Tyler’s family,” Tekotte said. “We’re a good team when we’re on like this.”

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