TILTON — Making the adjustment from metal to wood bats can be one of the toughest changes in athletics.
Every year, collegiate baseball players are forced to make the adaptation when they join the professional ranks.
Most of those players have had opportunities whether it was when they were in high school or a summer wooden-bat collegiate league.
This week the Danville Post 210 Speakers are making the change when they travel to Crawfordsville, Ind., for a wooden-bat tournament featuring teams from Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio. To get ready, Danville pulled out the wooden bats for Tuesday’s game against Rantoul Post 287.
Landon Haurez actually broke out of a little slump using the wood. The third baseman went 3-for-4 with a single, a double and a home run — needing only a triple to hit for the cycle — in Danville’s 13-6 triumph over Rantoul at Gruber Park in Tilton.
“I have always enjoyed hitting with a wood bat,’’ Haurez said. “We play in a fall league over in Urbana every year and that’s a wood-bat league. We have a ton of fun playing over there.
“It was nice to make the change this week and break out of a little hitting slump.’’
Haurez had just four hits — 3 singles and a double — in his previous 17 at-bats before Tuesday’s game.
He got things started with a bloop single to right in the first inning. He followed with a solo home run to center in the third, a fielder’s choice in the fourth and then run-scoring double to right-center in the fifth.
“I was able to find a couple of barrels,’’ Haurez said. “I’ve done a lot of tee work and several rounds in the cage trying to get things turned around.
“This definitely spikes the confidence and hopefully, I can continue it through the weekend.’’
Haurez wasn’t the only Post 210 hitter enjoying success with the wooden bats.
Danville recorded 15 hits — seven for extra bases, including three homers — in the team’s fourth win this season against Rantoul.
“I think that was the best part of this game,’’ said Danville’s Jacob Spear, who pitched the first three innings. “We faced some really good teams this weekend down in Terre Haute, and when you are facing those type of teams, you confidence can drop off.
“A good game like this can help us build up some confidence as we get ready for another big tournament weekend.’’
Danville manager Allan Shepherd also used Tuesday’s game to see if Spear could pitch as well left-handed as he did right-handed.
“I’ve been throwing with both hands for a while and Shep watched me throw left-handed in Little League,’’ Spear said. “He wanted to see me do it in a live game.’’
It didn’t go so well for Spear.
After two shutout innings where Spear allowed only 1 hit and walked 1 batter, he switched gloves for the third.
Spear missed the strike zone on 12 of 15 attempts, walking three straight to load the bases and the lefty experiment was over. Rantoul would score six times in the third to take a 6-3 lead.
“It was really weird to throw left-handed,’’ Spear said. “I throw a football left-handed but my wrist motion with the baseball is just so different.
“I enjoyed trying it, but I think I need to work on it a little more.’’
Shepherd said that he was still really pleased in how Spear threw right-handed in the first two innings.
“Having Jacob throw left-handed is something unique, something I haven’t seen in 21 years,’’ Shepherd said. “Sometimes, if works and sometimes, it doesn’t.’’
Danville rallied to take a 7-6 lead with a three-run fourth inning and the Speakers (14-3) sealed the victory with a six-run fifth.
“When you are in a tournament like we were this past weekend and like we will be this weekend, the intensity level is automatically turned up,’’ Shepherd said. “So, a mid-week game like this is a good opportunity to take a relaxed approach and experiment with things like using a wood bat.’’
Post 210 also got an opportunity to rest players like Isaiah Ruch and Andy Onnen as full-time pitcher Ethan Edwards started at second base, going 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI on his double to left.
“Easy (Edwards) is definitely a pitcher only and he is one of the best kids that I’ve coached,’’ Shepherd said. “He went out and gave everything he had and I couldn’t be happier for him to have a good day at the plate.’’
Danville also got multiple hits from shortstop Dalton Hobick, outfielder Blake Norton and catcher Drew Wichtowski, who was 3-for-3. Norton and Drew Pinkston, who was the winning pitcher with two innings of shutout relief, joined Haurez with a home run in the contest.
Up next for Danville is the Crawfordsville Wooden Bat Tournament this weekend. Post 210 will play the host, Crawfordsville in the opener at 9 a.m. on Friday, followed by a 2 p.m. game with Moberly, Mo. The Speakers will then play Greenville, Ohio, at 8 a.m. on Saturday and Chicago at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The tournament concludes with semifinals, a third-place game and the championship on Sunday.