Breaking News Bar
updated: 6/4/2011 10:24 PM

Cool finish as St. Francis tops Richmond-Burton

Success - Article sent! close

The celebratory Gatorade bath looked refreshing.

When St. Francis baseball coach Rich Janor was doused from behind in the wake of his team's 6-2 victory over Richmond-Burton in the Class 3A Grayslake Central sectional championship game on Saturday, Jack Roback looked envious.

It was a downright hot afternoon and the Spartans' starting pitcher had just thrown 5 innings in the relentless sun.

"I think we could all use one of those," Roback said as he watched Janor get caught by surprise and then playfully laugh off his wet duds. "It was tough today in the heat."

Then again, so was Roback.

Perhaps even a Gatorade bath, with lots and lots of ice, wouldn't have been enough to cool him down.

Roback was red hot and got the job done in just about every way possible for St. Francis, which made some history with its sectional championship victory. The Spartans are advancing to their first supersectional in school history. They'll face off against Nazareth Academy on Monday (4:30 p.m.) at North Central College.

The winner earns a trip downstate to the Class 3A finals.

On the flipside, Richmond-Burton, which went from losing 24 games last year to winning 24 this year, closes out its season with a 24-9 record.

Roback, who is 8-1 on the mound and is trying to walk on to Purdue, allowed just 1 hit and 1 run and fanned 4 Richmond-Burton batters. Meanwhile, he was as prolific at the plate as he was stingy on the mound.

Roback drove in 2 runs with a triple in the second inning and reached safely in his other two at-bats, with a single and on an error.

"I just came with a good mindset to the game," Roback said. "I was just trying to do whatever I could do to help the team win, whether it be at the mound or at the plate. I just happened to hit well and pitch well on the same day."

Richmond-Burton right fielder Matt Malecki was the only player to get a hit off Roback, a single into left field in the fifth inning.

"He just kept us really off-balance," Malecki said of Roback. "He worked first with his curveball and then came with his fastball and so his fastball looked a little bit quicker than it really was.

"Usually, we get one hit and then another and another and we start a rally. But we just weren't able to hit off him. We just couldn't come through."

Not only did Roback come through for the Spartans, so did others.

Catcher KC Zimmerman and third baseman Ryan Acciavatti each had 2 hits while centerfielder Eric Stout and first baseman Lonnie Hicks each drove in a run with a single.

The Spartans put 3 runs on the board in the second inning and added 3 more runs in the fifth.

"We played a complete game today," Janor said. "Good infield defense, good job by our pitcher and timely hitting. One of our philosophies is to jump (score) first and put a big inning together.

"We put it all together today. This is big for our program."

Meanwhile, Richmond-Burton coach Mike Giese refuses to let the loss be bigger than it should.

His team went from rags in 2010 to riches in 2011 and showed grit in trying to rally with a couple of runs over the fifth and sixth innings on St. Francis miscues.

"This (loss) doesn't change how I feel about this team," Giese said. "I love every single one of these guys. They played hard until the very end, and they did everything we asked them to do. Sometimes you just come up short."