Burkardt, Akers pitch key conference victory over rival Hononegah
By Bob Balgemann
Colin Burkardt and James Akers combined to pitch a 4-3 win over rival Hononegah May 7, handing the Indians (18-7, 13-1) their first NIC-10 loss of the season.
The decisive, three-run third inning was fueled by Jeremy Near’s (1-for-3) two-run single and an RBI single from Eric Steiner (1-for-3), all after two were out.
During the week Harlem baseball improved 11-3 in the conference and 14-11 overall by sweeping the season’s series from Rockford East, 22-2 and 7-3 on May 6 and 8, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Lady Huskies had a mixed week in softball, routing Guilford, 22-1 and Belvidere, 15-1, while losing to rival Hononegah, 14-5.
The Huskies avenged a 1-0 loss to Hononegah on April 26 with their 4-3 win in the weather-delayed rematch. Getting leadoff batters on base and scoring after two were out proved to be key ingredients in that victory.
Harlem was up 1-0 in the first inning after David Galassi opened with a single. Carson Weber followed with a single, then courtesy runner Caden Springer scored on a two-out single by Noah Mandujano.
It was Timmy Ellinger on base leading off the third inning, with a single. He was forced at second on a sacrifice bunt by Weber, then Logan Johnson reached on an error. There were two outs when Steiner came through with his clutch single, scoring Weber for a 2-1 lead. Near’s two-run single followed, making it 4-1.
Hononegah rebounded with single runs in the fifth and sixth, but Akers superb relief pitching saved the game. Starter and winner Burkardt didn’t allow any earned runs over his 5 2/3 innings, walking two and striking out six.
The 7-3 win over Rockford East was similar in makeup, with the Huskies getting their leadoff batters on base and scoring after two were out. There was some station-to-station baseball, too. Such as in the first inning when Galassi (3-for-3) led off with a single, gave way to courtesy runner Jared Jacobsen who stole second and scored on a single by Weber.
With two-out in the second Galassi cranked his first home run of the season, a solo shot, and it was a 2-0 game.
East made it interesting by scoring three times in the top of the fourth to lead, 3-2. But the Huskies came right back with three of their own, in the last of the third, to regain the edge, 5-3.
2-out rally
Austin Bentz (1-for-3) singled with one out, then Galassi kept the inning alive when he singled with two gone. After Bentz scored on an error, Timmy Ellinger (1-for-3) collected his 14th double of the season, driving in courtesy runner Noah White to make it 4-3. Another East mistake, this one a dropped third strike, allowed Weber to reach base and scored Ellinger.
The last of the sixth saw another two-out rally, led by Galassi with a walk. Ellinger also walked and while Weber was at bat, courtesy runner White scored on a wild pitch and it was 6-3, Harlem. Ellinger also came home on a wild pitch for the seventh and final run.
In their first meeting, Harlem had two seven-run innings in a five-inning game, shortened by the 10-Run Mercy Rule.
Weber had his season’s best day, going 5-for-5 at the plate with six RBIs and three runs scored. He had two singles, a double and two triples.
Others enjoying a memorable game were Springer, 2-for-3 with three runs scored and one RBI; Logan Johnson, 2-for-4, one run scored and two RBIs; Bentz, 2-for-2, three runs scored and one RBI; Jared Jacobsen, 2-for-4, three runs scored and two RBIs; Mandujano, 2-for-3, two runs scored and one driven in; Nathan Johnson, 1-for-2, two runs scored and three walks; Burkardt, 1-for-1, one run scored and one RBI; and Steiner, 1-for-3, one run scored. Galassi was an uncharacteristic 0-for-4, but managed to collect one RBI; Jordan Anderson (0-for-1) scored twice.
Jacobsen was the winning pitcher, throwing four scoreless innings and allowing just one hit; Anderson gave up two unearned runs in two innings of work, with three strikeouts.
After the sweep Harlem remained in sole possession of third place, behind leader Hononegah and second-place Freeport (15-6-1, 9-2-1). Belvidere North was close behind, in fourth place, at 15-9-1 overall and 9-4-1 in the conference.
Softball results
Harlem (17-8, 8-3) was involved in three high-scoring conference games, winning two of them.
The toughest pill to swallow was the 17-5 loss to rival Hononegah, currently the unbeaten NIC-10 leader with an overall 24-3 record.
The Indians were up, 11-0, when Harlem scored four times in the last of the third inning. Haley Bibby (1-for-3) opened with a single, then scored when Lizzie Thomas (0-for-4) reached on an error by the left fielder. Hailey Howard (0-for-2) and Addy Wilder (1-for-1) walked, loading the bases for Cheyenne Nietz whose single drove in Thomas. Swanson (2-for-3) singled in Howard; Olivia Penney’s infield grounder scored Addy Wilder.
Addy Wilder doubled with one out in the fifth and scored Harlem’s fifth and final run on Swanson’s two-out single.
Nietz was the starting and losing pitcher, allowing just two earned runs over 1 2/3 innings of work. Swanson mopped up, throwing 4 1/3 innings and giving up three earned runs.
Conference wins over Guilford and Belvidere were scored later in the week.
Nietz was the winning pitcher and had one of her best games on offense against the Lady Vikings (2-15, 2-9). She went 4-for-5 at the plate with her second home run of the season and drove in five runs. Addy Wilder (2-for-5), Haley Bibby (1-for-3) and Mac Schultz (2-for-3) each collected two RBIs and combined to score six times.
In addition, Thomas the lead-off batter went 3-for-4 with four runs scored and one RBI; Trinity Almond was 1-for-1, scoring twice; Swanson was 2-for-5 with two runs scored and one RBI; Penney was 2-for-5 with two runs scored and one RBI; and Kennedy Robison (1-for-3) scored once, walked twice and had one RBI. Hannah Egizio and Bailey Wilder each scored once.
Nietz pitched three innings and didn’t allow any earned runs while striking out eight. Swanson relieved, throwing two scoreless, hitless innings with five strikeouts.
Nietz was on the mound for the third time in a week, against Belvidere (3-15, 2-11). She threw four innings and didn’t allow any earned runs, with five strikeouts. In addition, she went 2-for-4 at the plate. Relief was supplied by Swanson, again scoreless and hitless while striking out one.
Harlem didn’t have any big innings, instead scoring twice in the first, three times in each of the second, third and fourth, and four runs in the fifth.
Howard (1-for-2) and Swanson (2-for-3) drove in two runs apiece while Thomas (1-for-4), Penney (2-for-4), Bibby (1-for-3) and Schultz (1-for-3) each had one RBI. Robison (1-for-4) scored two runs; Almond scored twice and Egizio scored once.

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