Gideon Friedberg displayed his development as a hitter last Saturday as the Hun School baseball team hosted the Blair Academy.
After looking overmatched against the Blair pitcher with two swings and misses in the second inning, Hun junior Friedberg connected for a solid single to right field. He then stole second base and went on to score on an error as Hun jumped out to a 1-0 lead.
“I was behind the first two so I figured that he wasn’t going to give me anything off-speed because I didn’t come close to the other two,” said Friedberg. “My approach is to go to right field and I got it and hit it on the line.”
Friedberg’s run, though didn’t hold up as Hun gave up four runs in the top of the sixth and another in the seventh to fall 5-1.
With Hun having dropped four straight heading into the Blair game, Friedberg acknowledged that the team has had trouble closing out games.
“We started out pretty strong there but obviously we weren’t able to string the hits together like we needed,” said Friedberg.
“He pitched a heck of a good game and we just sort of let up, that is the problem we have been having. In the last game we had five strong innings and one bad one and that is what undoes us.”
Despite the recent slump, the Hun players are not hanging their heads. “We are approaching it the same way,” said Friedberg. “We have really good team chemistry and everybody is pulling for each other. It is tough.”
Friedberg, who went to Princeton High for two years before transferring to Hun, is having a good experience with the Raider squad.
“I always knew coach (Bill McQuade) through camps as a young kid and I really liked the culture here and the program and the school is a good fit,” said Friedberg. “I am very happy to be here.”
Getting the chance to play third base this spring in addition to his natural position of catcher, Friedberg believes he is making good progress.
“I grew a little bit and I was in the weight room over the winter getting stronger,” said Friedberg.
“It is a transition over to third but I have a lot more confidence swinging the bat. It is just having another year, getting more confident. I am one of the older guys now.”
Hun head coach Bill McQuade likes the growth he has seen in Friedberg.
“Gideon has a great arm, he has great, soft hands,” said McQuade.
“Like so many of these kids, they have just got to believe in themselves a little more. He can look like he is out of sync and then all of a sudden, he will lash one out to left center or right center. I see that he is playing the game with more intensity and staying more focused. He is a big kid; he is not the little guy that transferred here.”
In reflecting on the loss to Blair, McQuade acknowledged that his team lost focus as the Buccaneers took the lead with a two-run homer in the sixth and then tacked on two more runs in that frame to seize momentum.
“George Revock was on a roll; he had them confused up there and we scratched out the one run,” said McQuade, referring to his sophomore starting pitcher.
“With a couple of hits we could have gotten more. We haven’t been getting key hits in big situations so that hurt us again. The homer changed things but there was a missed cutoff in the outfield and there was a bad pickoff play here. I think that rattled George a little bit and then he threw one over the middle of the plate and the guy yanked it out of the ballpark and that was the difference in the game. One play can turn everything around.”
Dealing with a lot of roster turnover, McQuade sensed that his team was going to be in for a rocky road this spring.
“We knew that coming in; we had young kids or inexperienced older kids so either way you looked at it, we were inexperienced,” said McQuade, whose team came through with a 5-0 win over Peddie last Monday to improve to 7-8.
“We weren’t as physical as we were before. But it makes some of the young kids step up. Now, what is happening is that they are finding out what it is like playing at the varsity level against good competition. But when we revisit the games as coaches, we feel we could have won a number of these games.”
As Hun heads into the postseason, starting action in the Mercer County Tournament this week with the state Prep A tourney around the corner, McQuade believes his team can raise the level of its play.
“They are keeping their heads up, they are still fighting because they know they have to get better and that is what we keep preaching, get better,” said McQuade, whose team is seeded 10th in the MCT and will play at No.7 Ewing on May 7 in a first round contest.
“It is not going to happen overnight. You are never going to get better if you put your head down. So our mantra all along with these kids is to hang in there.”
Friedberg, for his part, is confident that the Raiders can turn some heads come tournament time.
“We just need to have timely hitting,” said Friedberg. “We work together, we have a solid team. We are still coming with the same good attitude.”