Kentucky baseball player Neil DeNicola ties state record with home runs in five consecutive games

Kentucky baseball player Neil DeNicola ties state record with home runs in five consecutive games

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Kentucky baseball player Neil DeNicola ties state record with home runs in five consecutive games

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Atherton (Louisville) baseball coach Jared Baker has called Neil DeNicola one of Kentucky’s most underrated players for the past two seasons, but now the senior center fielder has tied a record that won’t be overlooked.

DeNicola homered Tuesday in an 8-2 victory at Waggener, giving him home runs in five consecutive games. According to Kentucky High School Athletic Association records, DeNicola is just the second player in state history to accomplish the feat. Madison Central’s Aric Burkhart homered in five straight games in 1993.

“It feels good, obviously, to tie a state record, but it wasn’t my goal to hit home runs,” DeNicola said. “I just try to hit it where it’s pitched, and I’ve gotten pitches to put over the fence.”

The streak began April 15 in an 8-5 loss at LaRue County. He also homered in a 4-2 loss at Ballard last Thursday, a 6-2 loss at Henry County on Friday and a 13-3 win over Jeffersontown on Saturday before tying the record Tuesday. He did not play during a 12-0 victory over Doss on Saturday.

DeNicola can break the record  Thursday when the Rebels (10-4) play at Pleasure Ridge Park on the opening day of the Louisville Invitational Tournament.

“If I know Bill Miller, they will challenge him,” Baker said of the PRP coach. “That’s what PRP does. They won’t pitch around him. It will be a good challenge for Neil. … All I ask is that he tries to make solid contact. Whatever happens will happen.”

DeNicola has posted solid stats all season, but the home runs are his first five of the season. He’s batting .684 (26 of 38) with 20 RBIs, 10 doubles and eight walks with just four strikeouts.

DeNicola said one key to the streak has been that all five home runs came on the road. Baker said Atherton’s field – which is larger than most area ballparks – has been unplayable because of rain.

“He’ll get some lift on some balls at Atherton, and they’ll one-hop the fence,” Baker said. “But he also bulked up some in the off-season, and he’s been driving the ball a little bit more.”

DeNicola said he’d like to play baseball in college but currently has no offers. He admits breaking the record will be on his mind against PRP but said he won’t be disappointed if he doesn’t get it.

“If I have three doubles or a couple of singles, I’m not going to be upset,” he said. “If I happen to get a home run, it will be nice to break the record. But it’s not what I’m trying to do.”

 

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