After literally squeezing out a 1-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 East win over Rochelle on Tuesday, Kaneland manager Brian Aversa stressed the importance of getting off to a fast start.
The host Knights heeded his sage advice, breaking out for 10 runs in the second inning of Thursday's convincing 17-0, 5-inning victory to complete the three-game conference sweep over the Hubs.
Senior Trevor Storck held the Rochelle offense at bay, allowing just one hit -- a solid fifth inning single -- and one walk to improve to 3-0.
"After Tuesday's real tight game, we said our goal is to come out and put some runs on the board and try to put this team away early," Aversa said. "They stepped up and did well today. Trevor pitched a great game, defense played well and our bats came alive."
"Coach told us the most important game was today. Going 2-1 in the conference to start off was not good enough," said Knights senior catcher Ty Heinle, who stroked two doubles and drove in three runs.
The Knights (9-5, 3-0) sent 14 batters to the plate against Hubs starter Eric Dunthe in the eventful second inning, collecting 7 hits and 3 walks.
Rochelle (2-11, 0-3) helped open the floodgates by throwing away Joey Pollastrini's sacrifice bunt to first after Ray Barry and Jordan Jones both reached to start the inning.
Jones and Pollastrini ended up scoring twice in the frame with leadoff man John Hopkins knocking in 3 runs with a pair of singles.
Despite the long wait to return to the mound, Storck was able to put in on cruise control the rest of the way.
"It's easy pitching with the lead," Storck said. "I know that if I throw strikes, my defense is going to make plays."
Shortstop Trever Heinle (2 hits, 2 runs) made a nice stop and throw on T.J. Maynard's grounder in the hole to open the Rochelle third and Tom Fox started a textbook 5-4-3 double play to end the fourth.
"I was really impressed by our defense today," Aversa said.
Kaneland utilized its bench to tack on 6 more runs in the fourth. Lane Davis and Mike Tottoni both delivered 2-run singles and Blake Sowell added a sacrifice fly.
"The guys on the bench have the capabilities and we always expect them to be ready. They got their time today and did a great job," Ty Heinle said.
After opening the season 4-4 in defense of their Class 3A state championship, the Knights have reeled off five wins in their last six outings.
"We're starting to put the pieces together," Ty Heinle said.