Jacob Schutta was not in Burlington Central's starting lineup for Saturday's nonconference baseball game at Dundee-Crown, yet he figured prominently in the Rockets' 6-2 win.
Central (7-4) trailed 2-0 in the top of the sixth, and seven straight Rockets had been retired by D-C pitching when Schutta came off the bench and ripped a leadoff double.
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Up next, junior Tanner Smith capitalized on the momentum with a 2-run home run just inside the left-field foul pole that knotted the score.
"I was just hoping it would stay fair and it got close," Smith said of his first varsity home run. "Big sigh of relief."
Schutta wasn't done. In the seventh inning with runners at second and third and no outs, the right-handed hitter singled home Danny Gerke with what proved to be the game-winning run.
"I was just going up there looking to put the ball in play," said Schutta, who normally plays second base or shortstop when he's not pitching. "Runners got advanced. Ultimately, I got a pitch I could put in play to score the go-ahead run."
Central coach Kyle Nelson said Schutta's off-the-bench performance was something his teammates should try to replicate.
"It was kind of a good lesson for a lot of guys on our team to see," Nelson said. " He shows up here and his name's not in the lineup. You've got two choices at that point: you can either let it affect you or not. He's the kind of kid that when his number was called he went out and got the job done and played good defense."
The Rockets added 3 insurance runs in the seventh inning against reliever Chase Bloch (1-2) via Reed Hunnicutt's 2-run single and a Michael Lee RBI groundout.
The late uprising made a winner of relief pitcher Jonny Frederickson (1-0), who threw 2 scoreless innings and remains unscored upon in 8 relief innings this season.
Dundee-Crown (6-7) took a 2-0 lead in the second inning on RBI singles from Bloch and Sam Ray, but that was all the Chargers could muster against Central starting pitcher Brenden Bushy and Frederickson. Bushy limited D-C to 2 unearned runs on 5 hits in 5 innings, struck out two, walked two and hit a batter.
"We just stopped hitting after the second inning," D-C coach Jon Anderson said. "We got, I think, one hit after the second inning. You can't win a whole lot of ballgames doing that."
Ray finished 2-for-4 from Dundee-Crown, which hosts South Elgin on Monday
Smith went 3-for-3 for Central and was intentionally walked in his final at-bat. The Rockets return to Big Northern East action on Monday when they host Harvard.