Prep Baseball

Baseball notes: North Linn's Jake Hilmer sets more career records

Lynx senior became Iowa's all-time hits leader; Fight with Flash Classic; Atkins fans 18

North Linn's Jake Hilmer (1) raises his arms as he scores from first base on a 3-run triple by Sean Boardman (not pictured) during the fifth inning of their 1A quarterfinal game in the state baseball tournament at Principal Park in Des Moines on Saturday, Jul. 21, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
North Linn's Jake Hilmer (1) raises his arms as he scores from first base on a 3-run triple by Sean Boardman (not pictured) during the fifth inning of their 1A quarterfinal game in the state baseball tournament at Principal Park in Des Moines on Saturday, Jul. 21, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

TROY MILLS — North Linn’s Jake Hilmer added more accomplishments to his baseball resume.

The Lynx all-stater’s name is scrolled all over Iowa’s prep basketball record book and now he is entered a few times among baseball’s best.

Hilmer set the all-time hits record last Friday and broke the mark for consecutive at-bats with a hit with four hits Monday in the opener of a doubleheader sweep over Maquoketa Valley at Delhi. He has tallied a state-best 307 hits before Thursday’s twinbill against Central City and had hits in 17 straight at-bats.

“I’ve been very fortunate to play on some really good teams,” Hilmer said. “We’ve made some playoff runs, so I’ve had some advantages, playing with a group of guys where teams can’t put me on base. I’ve got guys behind me that are good hitters, too.”

The career hits mark was set against East Buchanan. The feat occurred without an announcement or ceremony. Play was halted for North Linn to obtain the ball to commemorate the milestone and for a brief exchange with teammates and coaches. The game resumed just the way Hilmer prefers.

“I don’t need any extra attention,” Hilmer said. “If it is anything, I want the attention on the school and the whole program.”

The old mark was 290 by North Fayette’s Jake Greco from 2008-12. Less than a week later, Hilmer broke the consecutive hits record held by Fort Madison Aquinas-Marquette’s Travis Rung, who had 13 in a row in 2005. He already owns the career mark for RBIs (293) and runs (310).

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National records exclude eighth-grade stats. Hilmer trails the national records of 269 runs by 28 and is 40 shy of the hits mark of 277. His versatility has been key. In two straight plate appearances, Hilmer was able to leg out a bunt and hit the ball off an outfield fence 325 feet away.

“He finds different ways to get on base constantly,” North Linn Coach Travis Griffith said. “I’ve never seen anybody hit the ball like he is right now. Everything he hits, he hits hard.”

Records are not the focus, but Hilmer appreciates being mentioned with notable players on those all-time lists. Consider it a bonus to competing in a sport he loves.

“They just kind of come up,” Hilmer said. “You aren’t really shooting for them. You’re just playing the game, trying to enjoy it all and soak it all in.”

Hilmer had 31 hits this season before Thursday’s action. He hasn’t had fewer than 64 hits in a season since he joined the Lynx as an eighth-grader. He has 203 career stolen bases and is just 17 back of former teammate Ryan Miller.

Griffith said Hilmer has natural ability and a competitive nature, but mental game and baseball acumen helps set him apart from the rest. He is playing chess, while others are holding checkers.

“He plays at a speed other kids can’t because of his physical gifts, but he’s a step of ahead of everything,” Griffith said. “He understands the game so well.”

Fight with Flash Classic

The annual Fight With Flash Crosstown Baseball Classic will be held Saturday at the University of Iowa’s Duane Banks Field. The charity event began in 2015 and all proceeds go to the Fight With Flash Foundation, which benefits cancer research for adolescent and young adult cancer patients at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

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The organization is named for the late Austin “Flash” Schroeder, who died at 15 in April 2015 after a yearlong battle with T-cell lymphoma. He was a member of the Trojans youth baseball program and was in a grade ahead of current seniors.

“We can do a small part,” West Coach Charlie Stumpff said. “It’s nice playing area teams at the university and it’s a great baseball community. It is always neat.”

Clear Creek Amana and Iowa City Liberty begin action at noon. Iowa City Regina and Iowa City High are set for 2:30 p.m. Iowa City West and Solon are scheduled at 5 p.m. Schroeder’s brother, Cody, is a sophomore for Liberty,

“There are things bigger than baseball,” Stumpff said. “We all get it. The kids get it.”

Last year, they participated in “The wave” to children cancer patients at UIHC. There are activities for attendees of all ages, in addition to the games, including a baseball clinic Friday night. Click here for more information.

Rick Atkins fans 18

Marion left-handed starter Rick Atkins shares the honor for most strikeouts in a game by a pitcher this season. Atkins struck out 18 batters without a walk in a 4-0 four-hitter at Center Point-Urbana last Friday.

He joins Boone’s Brett Price and Des Moines Christian’s Kole Bradley with 18 strikeouts in a game. Atkins is 1-0 with a 0.58 earned-run average and 26 strikeouts in 12 innings pitched.

Marion (6-1) has won six straight before Thursday’s home doubleheader against Clear Creek Amana.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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