Luke Yachnin has a .432 on-base percentage and a .342 batting average as the RBHS baseball team’s leadoff hitter. He also has 13 stolen bases this season in 14 attempts and has set his sights on 50 steals, which would be a school record. | Steve Johnston

Riverside-Brookfield High School senior Luke Yachnin has trained and studied baseball to acquire the tools of the prototypical leadoff hitter.

“My game really isn’t hitting home runs, but I can still do damage in another way,” Yachnin said. “I’m small ball. I get a lot of singles. And when I get on base, I’m pretty fast. I steal a lot. I can get all of these good reads and give us more of an advantage. I can also bunt.”

The second-year starter especially is running toward challenging the RBHS records of 47 stolen bases in a season (49 attempts) by 2013 graduate C.J. Duffek and his career record of 81. 

Yachnin has 13 stolen bases this season in 14 attempts for the Bulldogs (5-7) after 28 thefts in 2022 in 29 attempts. 

“I want to try and get 50. I’ve recently slowed down, but I still have 24, 25 games left so I think it’s doable,” Yachnin said. 

Yachnin has a .432 on-base percentage,.342 batting average and eight runs scored. He also starts in center field after alternating in 2022 between left field or right field for the days former standout and first-round Atlanta Braves draft pick Owen Murphy was pitching.

Yachnin will play next for the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, where 2022 RBHS graduate Jack Niekrasz is on the pitching staff. Yachnin is undecided on his major but has always enjoyed math and physics.

“Luke is our tone setter. Reminds me of the great teams the Chicago Cubs had. Whenever they have had a true leadoff man, they were always competitive,” RBHS coach Mark Ori said. 

“When Luke is on, our offense is a completely different team. He creates a lot of pressure for the pitchers when he is on base and is sometimes stealing both second and third.”

Yachnin said he has improved his stealing through more speed and an ability to read pitchers. He studies MLB and college players about getting jumps. 

“After being on first so many times in my life, I’ve learned about pitchers’ moves,” Yachnin said. “It’s pretty easy to steal bases when you get pretty good at that.”  

No one can question Yachnin’s determination. He’s played baseball since T-ball at age 3 or 4. He also played basketball until eighth grade but decided to focus on baseball entering high school.

“I like the fact that [baseball is] a mental game more than anything. It teaches you a lot of things about having to deal with failure,” Yachnin said. 

“Really, in baseball if you fail 70 percent of the time, you’re an all-star in (Major League Baseball). It’s almost beautiful. And I feel like every single pitch is a new competition. You do something your first at-bat, have a really bad strikeout, and the next at-bat can be a home run off the same pitcher, the same pitch. It’s always something new, always competitive.” 

Yachnin also has grown competitively through six seasons of traveling baseball with Rake City based in Countryside. When he first joined, he was on the fourth team yet worked his way up.

“I decided I wanted to play college baseball and here I am playing college baseball,” Yachnin said.

“The older I got and the more I played, I learned to love not just playing but workouts, hitting for a couple of hours, the work you had to put in persistently. There were moments I could take a couple of days off, you don’t have to do this, but you just learn to put your head down and get through it and it’ll pay off.”