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The Journal Gazette

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Northrop senior Jack Hayden has done the job at the plate for the Bruins with 13 RBI through nine games and on the mound, where he is 1-3 with a 3.32 ERA. Two of those losses came in 1-0 games. 

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Northrop junior Manuel Lopez batting in the first inning against Huntington North on Tuesday 04.16.19  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Northrop senior Jack Hayden catching a pop fly in center field before the start of the game against Huntington North on Tuesday 04.16.19  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Northrop junior Jackson Foote batting in the first inning against Huntington North on Tuesday 04.16.19  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Northrop junior Jackson Foote catching a pitch at home plate in the first inning against Huntington North on Tuesday 04.16.19  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Northrop junior Jackson Foote catching a pitch at home plate in the first inning against Huntington North on Tuesday 04.16.19  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Northrop junior Manuel Lopez catching the ball at short stop before the start of the game against Huntington North on Tuesday 04.16.19  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Northrop junior Manuel Lopez throwing from second base before the start of the game against Huntington North on Tuesday 04.16.19  

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Northrop senior Jack Hayden batting in the first inning against Huntington North on Tuesday 04.16.19  

Friday, April 19, 2019 1:00 am

Senior Hayden helped Bruins hit their stride

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

Northrop baseball did not have a hot start to the season.

The Bruins (6-4) opened the season by being blown away by Leo, and then got shut out by Carroll and lost 10-8 at New Haven.

It wasn't until a doubleheader at East Noble on April 6 that Northrop finally hit its stride.

“We finally started clicking, not only as a team, but as brothers,” senior outfielder and left-handed pitcher Jack Hayden said of the two-game sweep. “We started to have more team chemistry. And you could tell, the environment of the entire stadium was different.”

Hayden, however, did not need any time to get warmed up this spring. The senior had six hits during that three-game losing streak to open the season, and has stayed just as hot as the Bruins won six of their next seven games. He entered Tuesday's game at Huntington North with a .567 batting average, 13 RBI, 12 runs scored, six doubles and two triples. 

“It kind of caught me by surprise, and I just go about my business and try not to think about it,” said Hayden, who moved down to third in the batting order after leading off last season.

“The goal last year as the lead-off guy was just to get on base and score. I didn't really care about my average, I cared more about on-base. But this year, when you get down to the three-hole, you're trying to drive in runs. ... And so average kind of plays a part into that.”

Northrop coach Matt Brumbaugh said Hayden has avoided putting too much pressure on himself at the plate like he did as a younger player. 

“He hasn't tried to take the big swing, he's just stayed even-keel with his swing and not trying to do something out of the ordinary,” Brumbaugh said. “I don't want him to get to the point where he feels like he has to carry this team, because you can get into that mode as a senior, and it's your last year and you want what's best.”

Hayden isn't powering Northrop alone. Junior Manuel Lopez had a smooth transition from second base to shortstop and hit .364 through the first nine games. Junior catcher Jackson Foote says he's having his best season. 

“I've been doing very well behind the plate, as well as swinging it lately, up until our game against Snider,” said Foote, who is hitting .379. “I've got one home run under my belt so far this season, and hopefully I'm just going to keep hitting for average.”

The pitching staff has an ERA of 2.95, while Hayden is 1-3 with an ERA of 3.32. He had a rough outing in the opener against Leo, giving up seven runs in three innings, but has also been on the losing end of two 1-0 decisions. 

“He's stayed away from the walk problem, which he's had in the past,” Brumbaugh said. “His control has always been, up until this year, a problem that's cost him innings, and now he's able to have complete games. He's right around the plate. He's not going to overpower you, but he's going to be able to drop a couple pitches in there for strikes.”

Foote said that Hayden, who has committed to Indiana Tech, is particularly confident on the mound.

“He's a bulldog, and he's not afraid to go at people,” Foote said. “He's a funny kid when he's out there. There will be times that I'll go out to talk to him, and he'll just be like, 'Nope, I'm good, go back.' He'll do the same thing to Brum (Brumbaugh) as well. He's kind of on his own thing out there.”

vjacobsen@jg.net