HHS ace Statler baffles Guilford

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Josh Flickinger/Beloit Daily News Hononegah's Tyler Statler was in charge Friday against Rockford Guilford in Rockton.

ROCKTON - The Tyler Statler show continued to play to rave reviews Friday afternoon against Guilford.

With scouts from the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox standing behind home plate, the Hononegah senior lit up their radar guns while lighting up the Guilford lineup in a 10-0, six-inning win.

Throwing in the upper 80's while hitting the 90-mph mark on occasion, Statler struck out 12 Vikings while allowing just two walks.

It brought Statler's season totals to 24 innings pitched without allowing an earned run.

The only spot of bother for Statler came in the sixth inning, when he walked back-to-back hitters. He quickly reset himself and got out of the inning with no damage to his spotless ERA done.

Hononegah coach Matt Simpson said Friday's outing was simply the latest in a string of outstanding performances.

"I thought he was really good again," Simpson said. "He walked two guys, but besides that I think he only went to a three-ball count on one guy. He had to battle there in the sixth, but he made the pitches he needed to. These were tough conditions. It's hard to pitch in, it's hard to hit in, and it's hard to field in. We played error-free ball behind him, which was big."

Statler said he's able to block out any distractions, specifically the presence of the pro scouts on hand.

"I don't pay any attention to that stuff," Statler said. "I go out there to do a job, and my only focus is on the batter at the plate. I don't worry about anything else."

Offensively, the Indians did a solid job of playing small ball, manufacturing five runs in the game's first five innings before exploding for five runs in the sixth to end the game one inning prematurely.

Braden Sayles led the way offensively for the Indians, going 3-for-4- with four RBI. Sayles said that particularly in the cold weather, a patient approach is necessary.

"You've just got to wait back on these guys a little bit," Sayles said. "They might not throw quite as hard as you'd like, but you have to be patient and try to take the ball up the middle."

Simpson said he was pleased with the team's approach at the plate.

"We have to execute, especially early on in the game, and we did that." Simpson said. "If you can get a few runs on the board, especially with Statler on the mound, you feel pretty good. We just kept plugging away, and we strung together a couple of hits, took advantage of a few of their mistakes, and the next thing you know, we're out of here early. All in all, it was a really good day."

The win moved the Indians to 3-0 in NIC-10 play and 8-4 overall. The Indians had some defensive issues in the early going that have disappeared of late, paving the way to a series of victories.

"All of our losses are close games to really good teams," Sayles said. "It was a rough start, but we've cleaned it up a lot. We're playing well, and our pitching is amazing. We've got three of the top pitchers in the conference right now. Our approaches at the plate have gotten a lot better. Our top seven hitters are all hitting the ball really well. It's coming together, and I think we're going to be a really good team by the end of the season.

The Indians figure to be challenged twice this week, when they travel to Boylan Wednesday, then host the Titans Friday.

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