COXSACKIE — Coxsackie-Athens sophomore Kane Schrader is currently in a zone that most baseball players, at any level, can only dream about.
Over his last three games, Schrader has gone 8 for 10 with five home runs — including four in one game — and has driven in 13 runs.
“He’s on fire,” Coxsackie-Athens coach Curt Wilkinson said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Schrader becomes just the fourth player in Section II history, and sixth in the state, to hit four home runs in a single game. Rick Bernardo of Albany Academy (1982), Leo Corvino of Columbia (2003) and Sean Kenny of Chatham (2008) are the only other Section II players to hit four bombs in a game. Bart Todd of East Meadow hit four in a game in 1988 and state record holder Brent Williams of Maple Grove hit five in a game in 2000.
Schrader’s amazing three-game stretch started on Wednesday when he went 3 for 4 a triple, two singles and two RBI in a 12-1 nonleague victory over Rensselaer.
That set the stage for Schrader’s monster game on Thursday when he hit four home runs — including two in one inning, one of which was a grand slam — and knocked in nine runs in a 21-3 victory over Patroon Conference rival Cairo-Durham at Angelo Canna Town Park.
“I liked a lot of pitches that came my way and took advantage of every one of them,” Schrader said of his monster game. “After the first two, it just didn’t feel real.”
Batting ninth in the order, Schrader took the first pitch he saw from Cairo-Durham’s Shane Mooney over the wall in left field in the top of the second inning. His next at bat came in the third and this time he blasted a two-run homer to left on a 1-2 offering from Mooney.
Schrader’s next two plate appearances came in the fifth and he made the most of them. By that time, the Mustangs changed pitchers, bringing in Brady Murphy, but the switch had no effect on Schrader, who roped a 0-1 pitch from Murphy over the wall in left with Adam Evans aboard.
Schrader, who hit one home run during his varsity debut as a freshman in 2017, explained his mindset when he came to bat later in the fifth inning with the bases loaded.
“I was just thinking abut making contact and not swinging for the fences,” he said.
Schrader certainly made contact and had the same result as his first three at-bats, this time depositing a 2-2 pitch from Cairo-Durham’s third pitcher of the game, Nick Ryan, over the left field wall for a grand slam to put an exclamation point on his historic day.
“Kane did extraordinarily well at the plate,” Wilkinson said. “He saw the ball so well and was aggressive at the pitches he liked. It was amazing and unbelievable to watch. Each home run was hit harder and farther. The team loved it and wanted to see more.”
His teammates got their wish the following night as Schrader launched his fifth jack in two days on his third plate appearance in Saturday’s nonleague game against Tamarac at McQuade Park.
After walking his first two trips to the plate, Schrader came up in the sixth and pulled a 2-1 pitch from Bengals pitcher Jack Mulligan for a solo homer to left. He came up one more time in the seventh and was finally retired, flying out to left.
Wilkinson credited a strong work ethic to Schrader’s early power display this season.
“I just think he’s been working real hard this season on his swing and focusing at putting the ball in play,” Wilkinson said. “He’s doing really well. He’s seeing the ball and not chasing bad pitches”
Schrader’s hot streak couldn’t have come at a better time as the unbeaten Indians (5-0) are now entering the heart of their league schedule with two games scheduled against Chatham this week and two more against defending Patroon Conference champion Hudson (6-0) next week.