Oran senior Dalton Elfrink picked the coldest day of the season to heat up.
The left-handed hitter made the wind, dampness and low 50s temperatures look like ideal hitting conditions Friday night at Notre Dame Regional High School.
Elfrink ripped a bases-loaded triple in a six-run first inning and later added a double to help the Class 1 Eagles to a 9-2 victory over Class 3 MICDS in the first of their three games in the Notre Dame Showcase.
Elfrink, an all-state player last season, has struggled at the plate this year. The 2-for-4 performance and three RBIs were a welcomed relief for a No. 5 batter who has been hovering around the .200 mark.
"I probably couldn't explain the feeling that I had," Elfrink said about the bases-loaded triple. "Just knowing I've been down the whole season, basically. And then finally I jump up. I've been trying to be a senior leader."
Elfrink has been searching for the form he displayed as a junior, when he batted .338 with two home runs and 37 RBIs. He thinks he may have solved the mystery earlier this week.
"We had practice and I stayed after with a couple of friends and we hit for a little while, 45 minutes to an hour," Elfrink said. "I don't know, it just clicked."
Elfrink attributed a lack of power to getting out on his front foot. He's worked on staying back and leveling out his swing.
Friday was his first chance to test his swing changes in a game situation, and a tone-setting situation presented itself in the first inning when the Eagles, ranked No. 4 in Class 1, loaded the bases against state-ranked MICDS (5-5).
Leadoff batter Seth Ressel blooped a single into right field, and Kody Moore had his wind-blown pop fly dropped in shallow center field for the first of four Rams errors in the inning.
MICDS starter Kai Rebmann fanned the next batter, but cleanup hitter Blake Carlyle reached on an infield single to load the bases for Elfrink.
Elfrink provided the Eagles' first ringing hit when he pulled a Rebmann delivery deep down the right-field line for a 3-0 lead.
"He needed that hit," Ressel said. "That hit was coming to him."
"The last two days of practice he's really looked good swinging the bat," Oran coach Mitch Wood said. "We're tickled to death to have him come around. He's a good stick for us."
Oran (11-2) added three more runs in the inning without the aid of a hit. Three more errors and a walk sent Ressel out to the mound for the second inning with a 6-0 lead.
"That gave us the confidence that we could have this game," Ressel said about the big first inning.
Ressel gave up just one run in the third inning and pitched into the seventh inning, where reliever Alex Heuring came on to get the final two outs.
Oran added single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Carlyle had an RBI single in the fourth, while Trenton Hency had an RBI double in the fifth. MICDS's sixth and final error in the sixth allowed Oran's final run to score.
Ressel allowed six hits, two runs, struck out seven and walked four over 6 1/3 innings.
"That really helped us tonight, getting that many innings out of him," Wood said.
Ressel committed the Eagles' only error on a pickoff throw. MICDS had runners in every inning but the sixth, but the Eagles limited the Rams' opportunities with flawless fielding and turned a double play in the fourth inning.
"The defense did really well," Ressel said. "They really helped me out a lot."
Ressel said he was excited to get the start against the St. Louis school, which stood sixth in the latest state poll but has lost its last three games.
"I was really excited," Ressel said. "This was a big game for me."
As it was for the rest of the Eagles, who finished third in Class 1 last year and relished the opportunity to test themselves against previously unseen competition as they prepare for district play next month.
"That's the best thing about it," Wood said. "We get to see some other teams and see how you stack up this time of year. Right now, our pitching did pretty good, and our hitting didn't do too bad. We hit some at-'em balls late. I thought we could have scored some more, but overall I'm pleased."
Heuring and Carlyle also went 2 for 4, while Jacob Priggel went 2 for 3.
Oran continues its tough schedule next weekend when it faces Clever, the top-ranked team in Class 2, in a tournament in Springfield, Mo.
"We're playing pretty good baseball right now, and hopefully we'll continue," Wood said.
WP -- Seth Ressel, 3-2. LP -- Kai Rebmann, 2-1. 3B -- Jack Rouse (MICDS), Dalton Elfrink (O). 2B -- Collin Palmer (MICDS), Rouse (MICDS), Elfrink (O), Trenton Hency (O). Multiple hits -- MICDS: Rouse 3-4, Peyton Mach 2-2; Oran: Alex Heuring 2-4, Blake Carlyle 2-4, Elfrink 2-4, Jacob Priggel 2-3. Records -- MICDS 5-5, Oran 11-2.