Prep Baseball

Twice as nice: North Linn's Jake Hilmer breaks national hits record, pitches perfect game

Hilmer strikes out 8 in gem, 2 singles gives him 278 for national mark

Jake Hilmer of North Linn. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Jake Hilmer of North Linn. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

TROY MILLS — Only one person could upstage the first perfect game pitched by North Linn’s Jake Hilmer.

The answer is simply himself.

In the same game he threw the seven-inning gem, Hilmer tallied two singles to become the national leader in career hits, powering Class 2A third-ranked North Linn to an 8-0 victory over Monticello Friday night at North Linn High School.

Hilmer has state and national records for hits and runs and has multiple basketball state records. None are as important as the Lynx's current 34-4 mark.

“The record I like is our team record,” Hilmer said. “We’ve had a great season, so far, and we’re trying to get some momentum going into this postseason.”

Hilmer tied the national record with a bunt single in the third and took sole possession with a hard grounder to left field off the first pitch of his final at-bat in the sixth. He has 72 hits this season, giving him 278 overall, which does not include his totals from his eighth-grade season.

“You have the same approach the whole time, going through even on the countdown” Hilmer said. “You’re just going up there, trying to find a pitch to drive, and that’s what I did the whole day.”

Hilmer said he was glad to get the milestone hit out of the way, so the team could focus on returning to state. He sandwiched a walk between his two base hits, not getting anything close when he walked and scored in the four-run fifth.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“If I can get on base, get around and score a run, that’s all that matters,” Hilmer said. “People talk about them a lot, but you’re just playing baseball. You’re not playing for the records.”

Hilmer was even more impressive on the mound, retiring all 21 batters he faced. He improved to 10-1 this season behind the special feat.

“I didn’t strike out 21 guys,” Hilmer said. “We made plays defensively. It was a good all-around team win.”

Hilmer struck out eight and only allowed one ball to reach the outfield. He was busy as a defender with five assists.

He received help from his defense, including a nice catch by his brother, Austin, who caught a looping liner behind second base for the first out in the seventh.

“If you want somebody to make that big play behind your back, you want it to be your brother,” Hilmer said. “He’s my roommate, one of my best friends. A pretty cool moment for me.”

Hilmer recently returned from a sprained ankle last Friday. North Linn Coach Travis Griffith said he didn’t expect Hilmer to return this week, but struggled to keep him off the field as soon as Monday. He picked up right where he left off before the injury.

“You’re not going to see a kid who competes like that very often, if ever,” Griffith said. “He has the talent and the mental part, but he just competes at a different level.”

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Alex Sturbaum had three hits to lead North Linn. David Seber, Nathan McEnany and Parker Bechen each added two RBIs for the Lynx, who are healthier and fielded a full starting lineup for the first time since June 11. Bechen, Seber and Trevor Boge, who missed six games due to an injured knee, played. Boge had two hits and an RBI.

“It felt like we were back to normal and getting our swagger back after a bad week,” Griffith said. “We had a couple good practices this week. We had to get back to the attitude of playing North Linn baseball.”

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

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.