Defense proved to be Yorkville’s downfall Tuesday as a pair of unearned runs in the seventh gave Kaneland a 3-2 victory and 2-0 series lead.
The Knights regrettably returned the favor under blustery conditions in Thursday’s crucial Northern Illinois Big 12 East finale in Maple Park.
With Kaneland’s Bryan Van Bogaert and Yorkville’s Bryce Cantrall hooked up in a classic scoreless pitcher’s dual through five innings, the Knights defense faltered in the sixth.
A pair of physical errors and a costly mental error opened the floodgates for 4 unearned Yorkville runs.
Kaneland mounted a spirited comeback in the final two frames, but Blake Szurkowski worked out of a bases-loaded, 1-out jam in the seventh to seal the Foxes 4-2 victory, leaving both teams tied atop the conference standings at 7-2.
“(Cantrall) was good. We were going step for step and he just got the best of it,” credited Van Bogaert, who dropped to 3-2. “Errors happen. It’s part of the game. You just have to work through it. We got two out of three and that’s what we’re looking for in every series.”
“It’s 0-0 there. We don’t make a few plays and give them a couple of extra outs and they capitalized,” said Kaneland coach Brian Aversa. “We’ve been doing a lot of that, but unfortunately they did it to us this time.”
Van Bogaert struck out 6 and allowed just two hits as he cruised through the first five innings. Only one Yorkville runner reached third and Van Bogaert struck out Brendan Mispagel looking to end the threat in the fourth.
Ray Barry came up twice with a pair of runners aboard for the Knights (14-8 overall), but he grounded out in the third and struck out looking on a borderline 3-2 pitch in the fifth.
The Foxes (13-9-1) finally broke through in the sixth as two of the first three batters singled. Cleanup hitter Tanner Cook hit a sharp grounder that Tom Fox made a nice diving stop on at third, but instead of taking the force at third, he threw errantly to first allowing the game’s first run to score and advancing the other two runners.
Mispagel followed with an RBI groundout, then another error and a pair of singles allowed the Foxes to push across two key insurance runs.
Jacob Razo opened the Kaneland sixth with a single and Fox followed with sharp single that rolled past the left fielder and allowed Razo to score. John Hopkins plated Fox with a sacrifice fly.
Szurkowski retired the first batter in the seventh, but then hit Joey Pollastrini. Quinn Buschbacher’s wind blown popup fell safely into short right field and Barry walked to load the bases. However, Razo struck out and Fox popped out to second to end the game.
Cantrall (2-1) allowed 5 hits and recorded 12 ground ball outs in six innings, receiving stellar defensive support from third baseman Luis Correa.
“After those two tough losses Monday and Tuesday I was extremely pleased with how they responded today,” said Foxes coach Scott Luken.
Aversa was disappointed that his team continually hit the ball to the left side with a stiff wind blowing out to right.
We’re pretty aggressive at the plate and we’re swinging at some bad pitches right now, so we have to get a better idea of what to look for,” he said.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.