April 22, 2014 | 02:22 PMWALWORTH — After an up-and-down 3-3 start during which the Chiefs displayed some intimidating, but inconsistent hitting power and defense, Big Foot pulled out of what head coach Steve Bochat feared could turn into a repeat of last season’s six-game slump.
The team scored 26 runs in its first two games, and 13 in its next three.
The bats were starting to cool and Big Foot needed to bust out a big win last week to reverse momentum back in their favor.
Against Palmyra-Eagle on April 17 and South Beloit on Monday night, Big Foot got exactly what they needed.
The Chiefs drubbed Palmyra-Eagle 17-1 before clobbering South Beloit in a 10-0 win four days later. Both games were called early due to the WIAA’s slaughter rule, by which the outcome of a game is decided in the fifth inning if one team is winning by 10 or more runs.
Bochat said that the team from the first two games of the season showed up again.
“We slumped last year and didn’t want that to happen again, so we did some basic stuff at practice and it helped,” Bochat said. “We saw the ball better.”
Against Palmyra-Eagle, Big Foot scored 8 runs in both the first and second innings and 1 run in the third.
“Every year they play us tough,” Bochat said of Palmyra-Eagle. “I have never, ever blown them out like this. Ever. So this was a surprise and we just played a great game all the way around.
“So it was exciting to get up that big. Very exciting.”
Austin Hoey started the game and pitched five innings, giving up only one hit and 1 run, while recording nine strikeouts and two walks. Hoey was also 3-for-3 from the plate and batted in 4 runs.
Nate Freytag and Alex Landers both went 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs and Brian Wolski was 2-for-4 and batted in 3 runs on a home run over the left field wall in the first inning.
“The home run by Wolski just ignited us,” Bochat said.
Landers also smacked a 3-run home run to left in the second. They were Big Foot’s first long balls of the season.
“Hoey pitched really well — a one-hitter,” Bochat said of the Palmyra-Eagle on Monday afternoon. “Everything just kind of clicked. We need that consistency right now. We’re playing South Beloit tonight and hopefully the bats stay awake.”
The Big Foot bats were wide awake against South Beloit.
Freytag was a perfect from the plate. He was 2-for-2 with two RBIs, scored 1 run and walked twice.
Marshall Strenger was 2-for-3 with one RBI and scored 2 runs. Hoey was 1-for-3 and knocked in two runs.
But the star of the game was pitcher Brett Morris who was nearly perfect from the mound. In five shut-out innings, Morris threw seven strikeouts and gave up one hit in the bottom of the second.
“We’re usually slow coming out of the gates and then we start to pick it up as the weather gets warmer,” Bochat said. “So to put up this many runs this early is a good sign. And we returned first-all conference players, so I expect it. Best team I’ve had in the five years I’ve been here.”
Big Foot is averaging 8.25 runs per game — and Bochat agreed that of course it would be ridiculous to expect 10 or more runs from his team every game, but he wishes they could.
“That’d be great,” he said.
The Chiefs are tied for first place in the Rock Valley — South Conference with Beloit Turner. Both teams are 2-1 in the RVS.
Big Foot hosts Elkhorn at 4:45 p.m. on Thursday.
Elkhorn is 0-4.
“If we can play consistent (baseball), we can play with anybody,” Bochat said.