For most freshmen, hitting a home run in a varsity baseball game is an exciting experience.
But after hitting home runs in four consecutive at-bats, including two more Friday, Gibault High School freshman Jordan McFarland reached a zone few batters ever encounter regardless of age.
Coming into Saturday, after just nine at-bats, the 6-foot, 3-inch, 185-pound first baseman was tied with four other players for the St. Louis area home run lead. He's hitting .667 (6-for-9) with four home runs, two singles and 10 RBIs.
McFarland's first homer in the streak was a grand-slam April 1 against Marquette in the second game of a doubleheader at Alton's Gordon Moore Park. The next came April 5 at home, a pinch-hit, walk-off home run in the eighth inning that gave the Hawks a 6-5 victory over rival Valmeyer.
McFarland took his Louisville Slugger Attack bat on the road Friday night and homered in his first two-at bats in a 9-0 win over Pinckneyville.
"One of my players asked me yesterday if this was a record.," Gibault coach Andy Skaer said. "As a coach, I don't keep records of something like that because it doesn't happen. If you do it in two at-bats it's crazy. To do it in four at-bats in a row, it's almost unimaginable."
According to the National High School Federation record book, the national record for homers in consecutive at-bats is six and has been done five times. The last was by Stevan Louch of Michigan in 2001.
There are four players with five straight homers from Illinois, including Joey Ohnesorge (Beecher City, 1982), Curtis Parrish (Odin, 2002), Mike Lemons (White Hall North Greene, 1987) and Jason Richardson (Elgin Larkin, 1999).
McFarland, who made his first varsity start Friday, admits the whole experience has been a bit overwhelming. After all, he sandwiched two singles around those four bombs and had hits in six straight at-bats.
"It's really surprising, actually," he said. "I know I can hit the ball, but I'm actually surprised I'm doing it at such a high level."
What was it like homering in four straight at-bats as a freshman on the varsity?
"At first you kind of let the nerves get to you, but the best thing I can do is not let the hype get to me and stay humble," McFarland said. "I keep thinking my next at-bat is the biggest at-bat, that's what I'm looking at."
Even McFarland's teammates have begun to expect the unexpected.
"After the first two (homers) they went pretty crazy," McFarland said. "Then Friday I got the silent treatment on both of them so that was pretty funny."
McFarland didn't have to wait long since his teammates were too excited and mobbed him after about 10 seconds.
The streak finally ended when McFarland singled in his third at-bat Friday, then struck out in his fourth.
"I went back to the dugout and the guys were giving me a hard time because I didn't get another one," joked McFarland.
"We knew coming into this year he was a really nice freshman player and at some point he'd probably gets a chance to play some varsity," Skaer said of McFarland, who also has two homers on the underclass level. "It's going to be hard to get him out of the lineup now."
McFarland, who attended St. James Grade School in Millstadt, was also on Gibault's varsity basketball team. Older brother Brendan McFarland was a varsity basketball starter for the Hawks.
Jordan McFarland seemed relieved the streak was over. He said just trying to put solid swings on the ball worked far better than looking to go deep.
"I didn't go up to the plate thinking about that because I've heard if you go up there trying to hit a home run, you usually don't," he said. "I just tried to keep my hands level and hit a nice line drive."
McFarland wears the same No. 8 once worn by his grandfather, Bill McFarland, who grew up in East St. Louis and played five years of minor league baseball in the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals organization.
Coming into Saturday, the other two metro-east players with four homers this spring were St. Louis University recruit Drew Curtis from Edwardsville and Eastern Illinois University recruit Jake Haberer from Highland.
"I'm going to do everything I can within the best of my ability," McFarland said. "I'm not looking for home runs, I just want a solid line drive."
Along with McFarland's size, Skaer identified one other important aspect of the freshman's hitting approach
"He is one of the best high school hitters I've seen about taking the ball the other way," Skaer said. "Even as a freshman he's probably in the top five since I've been here as far as being disciplined and taking it the other way."