One 'Huck' of a hurler

Jeff Haun/Special to the Town Crier
Pinewood’s Jackson “Huck” Haun struck out 16 batters in a recent win over Westmoor.

Pinewood School pitcher Jackson “Huck” Haun’s recent 16-strikeout effort is impressive on its own but even more so when considering his baseball background.

The junior didn’t start out in T-ball at age 5; he had little experience playing organized baseball before his freshman year, when his family moved to Los Altos. That’s because Haun grew up in Morocco, Lithuania and Costa Rica – not exactly hotbeds for America’s pastime.

“We spent five years in Morocco, and I started with Whiffle Ball in the backyard,” said Haun, born in Oakland to parents who have worked as educators at international schools. “We moved to Lithuania when I was 6 for three years, and we got to the park as much as I could to hit. From (age) 8 to 14 we lived in Costa Rica and tried to start a team, but it didn’t work out because no one plays baseball there, so we went to the gym at the school where my mom worked and played in there.”

Dad Jeff Haun fondly recalled those days of bonding with his son over baseball – the game he adored and that Jackson quickly grew to love as well.

“It was just he and I playing thousands of rounds of catch and batting practice and groundballs and fly balls in vacant lots and basketball gyms in countries with no baseball,” Jeff said. “He couldn’t wait to move to the States so he could play in real games, and he has thrived somehow.”

Haun’s March 17 performance against Westmoor was his best yet. Not only did he whiff a school-record 16 batters, but Haun allowed just one hit over seven innings in the Panthers’ 10-2 home rout.

“He was pounding the zone with his fastball and mixing in his slider and curve for strikes,” Pinewood coach Casey Rowe said. “He had all three pitches working.”

Haun knew from the get-go that he was in a groove that day.

“Sometimes you go out there and can tell in the first inning if you’re going to have a good game or not,” said Haun, whose nickname “Huck” comes from his middle name Huckleberry. “When you are, you feel like you can throw anything and it’ll be in there.”

The effort gave him an edge on teammate Bo Fick in their friendly competition over who would finish the season with better stats. But Fick countered March 21, throwing a five-inning no-hitter in a 10-0 mercy-rule win over visiting Woodside Priory.

“Bo and I are always challenging each other,” said Haun, who plays summer ball with the Jefferson Blizzards in New York, where his mom Sarah is from. “It’s fun.”

A shortstop when not on the mound, Haun’s .462 batting average is second only to Fick (.500). Haun’s cumulative GPA is pretty impressive as well: 4.26.

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