CHAMPAIGN — What does it take to obtain high-fives from opposing baseball gamers throughout a sport?
Ask Champaign Central junior Jake Munroe.
He had Hoopeston Space athletes applauding his hitting prowess final Saturday at Spalding Park in Champaign after he hit three dwelling runs through the first half of a doubleheader.
Central defeated the Cornjerkers 12-2 within the first sport and 18-8 within the second sport, with the Maroons now sitting at 17-5 forward of a 4:30 p.m. first pitch on Thursday at Massive 12 opponent Regular Group.
Munroe stole the present together with his highly effective efficiency within the opener, which he adopted by recording a triple, double, single and 4 runs scored through the second sport.
Munroe completed with eight RBI on the day, as effectively.
“It feels surreal as a result of it appears like only a yr in the past I used to be a freshman,” Munroe stated. “Then COVID hit and I misplaced my sophomore season. I simply wish to make my mark on this workforce. It form of felt like my time was proper now, and I used to be in a position to try this final Saturday.”
Munroe’s three-homer sport is the fourth in Champaign Excessive/Central historical past, becoming a member of earlier accomplishments from Leon Shoaf in 1937, Marc Funkhouser in 1989 and Connor Mapes in 2015.
“It didn’t actually hit that I used to be making Central historical past at that time. It didn’t actually really feel like three dwelling runs got here in that one sport,” Munroe stated. “It was a surreal occasion.”
Munroe’s doubleheader began with him assessing a strike name made on Maroons leadoff hitter Nate Allen within the backside of the primary inning. Munroe questioned if the underside of the zone would possibly prolong only a bit decrease all through the sport.
So Munroe provided at a low first-pitch split-finger fastball and cleared Spalding’s outfield fence for a solo shot.
Munroe known as his second at-bat the toughest of the three by which he hit a house run. However with Allen on second base, Munroe drove a excessive fastball out of the yard.
May Munroe actually go 3 for 3 with three dwelling runs?
“I used to be simply nervous as a result of … I didn’t wish to strike out and make it appear to be it was a fluke form of factor,” Munroe stated.
Including to the stress, Munroe strode to the plate with the bases loaded. Munroe laid off a curveball, then smacked a fastball that had dwelling run distance, however went foul.
“I knew the following pitch was going to be a curveball as a result of (the pitcher) was going to attempt to mess up my rhythm,” Munroe stated, “and he form of simply hung a curveball and I used to be in a position to come up with it.”
Start high-fiving from each groups and a spot in Central’s historical past e-book.
Longtime Maroons coach John Staab most likely didn’t anticipate this form of single-game output from Munroe, however he’s recognized of Munroe’s potential for the reason that 6-foot-2, 205-pound infielder entered highschool.
“We anticipated fairly a bit from him,” Staab stated. “Final yr, he was possible going to begin for us at third to begin the season.”
That’s a big vote of confidence.
The 2020 Maroons, who didn’t get to play a sport due to the COVID-19 pandemic, carried double-digit seniors on their roster.
“He was going to be most likely the one underclassman that was going to crack that beginning lineup,” Staab continued. “He just about received (the third-base job) by the point we have been on the point of play our first sport. We moved him to brief this yr as a result of we felt like we had a gap there and we wanted our greatest defender there.”
The robust bat and protection are a part of Munroe’s “nice talent set,” based on Staab, together with strong hand-eye coordination.
Munroe nonetheless took strides to enhance his sport earlier within the pandemic. He joined the 17U journey workforce Rake Metropolis, which operates out of the Chicagoland space. This system beforehand was known as Crew Demarini and at one time included Maroons product Cam Robinson, who presently is a pitcher at Louisville.
“Delroy Robinson (Cam’s dad), he’s helped me a lot with my hitting over time,” Munroe stated, “and he’s simply been help system.”
With Rake Metropolis, Munroe performs alongside the likes of Notre Dame commits Owen Murphy and Estevan Moreno, who’re juniors at Riverside-Brookfield and Montini, respectively.
“Simply spending time within the cage with them and watching them area has simply upped my sport tenfold,” Munroe stated. “It was nice seeing some top-ranked gamers play, their routines in pregame and the way they work together with the sport of baseball. And I can simply take a few of that and duplicate it to my sport.”
Munroe stated he’s discovered extra consistency in his hitting since becoming a member of Rake Metropolis, making contact with rising regularity.
After feeling a bit uncomfortable throughout Central’s 2021 opener — a 9-0 loss to St. Joseph-Ogden on April 15 — Munroe stated he’s rediscovered that offensive consistency.
And the Maroons are following go well with. After an 0-3 begin, they’ve misplaced simply two video games whereas pulling off separate successful streaks of 9 and 6 video games. The latter remains to be ongoing.
“Initially of the season, as a workforce, we simply weren’t so positive about our possibilities … as a result of we’re such a younger workforce,” Munroe stated. Central’s roster is stuffed with six seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and a freshman.
“After that first (three) video games, being on this roll, everyone’s clicking on the identical stage,” Munroe continued, “and it’s simply enjoyable.”
Munroe stated he desires to vie for the Maroons’ single-season batting common title, which is held by present Pittsburgh Pirates minor leaguer Jake Snider. Staab stated Munroe was hitting .559 previous to a 5-3 win Tuesday towards Peoria Richwoods.
If Munroe retains slugging the ball — he now has 5 dwelling runs on the season — opposing groups would possibly decide to let Munroe’s batting common stay proper the place it’s.
“(Hoopeston Space) couldn’t deliberately stroll him,” Staab stated of Munroe’s bases-loaded third at-bat. “I suppose they might’ve. Perhaps they need to’ve.”