Even though the new high school baseball season is barely two weeks old, one thing is clear about the 2012 and ballclubs -- their hitters are already in mid-season form.
At least it sure seemed that way when the Red Devils and Spartans met in a Metro Catholic Conference game at De Smet Wednesday afternoon.
The two clubs combined for 23 hits, including nearly a dozen extra-base hits, in an old-fashioned MCC slugfest, which the home team Spartans eventually claimed by the final score of 8-5.
"We put the ball in play today, and we moved guys around," De Smet Head Coach Greg Vitello said. "But that doesn't always happen. I kind of thought our base-running kind of got us going a little bit today."
De Smet was aggressive in every phase of its offensive game against Chaminade.
The Spartans took the extra base at every opportunity, scored on wild pitches and fielding errors, bashed the ball into nearly every part of the ballpark, which led to an 11-hit, eight-run effort that proved too much for Chaminade's young pitching staff.
"This will be a learning experience for us," Chaminade head coach Chris Chiburis said. "They've got a really good lineup and they took advantage of some mistakes we made on the mound and in the field."
Three De Smet players had at least two hits, led by junior centerfielder Brandon Gutzler, who had four hits on the day (three doubles and a triple) and drove in four runs.
Gutzler, who raised his early-season batting average to .667 (10 hits in 15 at-bats), also scored twice to pace the Spartan attack.
"And he hasn't even arrived yet," Vitello said. "He's such a talented young man, and he's still learning some of the mental aspects of playing baseball.
"He just gets better and better everyday. It's a learning process."
Well, if Gutzler keeps hitting like he did on Wednesday, opposing pitchers are going to have to learn how to pitch around him.
And that goes for teammates Kyle Downey and Conner Wardlaw as well.
Downey was three-for-three, with an RBI, and two runs scored, and Wardlaw, De Smet's leadoff hitter, had two hits, and an RBI and two runs scored of his own.
"He's our spark plug," Vitello said. "He's that catalyst that gets everything going for us. He's great little player, and a fine young man too."
The trio combined to produce De Smet's first four runs, before Gutzler put the game out of reach with his two run triple in the fourth.
Junior Brandon Miller got the win for the Spartans, and improved his personal record to 3-0, making him the winning pitcher in all of De Smet's wins so far this year.
Senior Nolan Sponsler took the loss for Chaminade, after giving up the first seven De Smet runs in five innings of work on the mound.
Sponsler did do his part at the plate to keep his team in the game though. He was two-for-four, with his first home run of the season, along with a triple, and two RBIs.
"He's got all the ability in the world," Chiburis said. "He plays all over the field for us. He started on the mound, then he moved to center and moved to second base. He's always making plays that give us the chance to win."
Chiburis also named catcher Austin Allen and second baseman Jake Goessling as key seniors he expects to be leaders for the Red Devils this season.
Chaminade will be back in action on Friday, when it hosts its first home game of the season against Kirkwood at 4:15 p.m.
Then on Saturday, the Devils will play in the DuBourg Round Robin Tournament, with a 10 a.m. game against O'Fallon Christian, and a 12:30 p.m. game against DuBourg at the Heine Meine Ballpark in south city.
De Smet is hosting the De Smet Jesuit Classic this weekend, with games against Kansas City Rockhurst at 4:45 p.m. on Friday, and a game against Loyola Jesuit Academy (Wilmette, IL) on Saturday at 10 a.m.