Not much of what happened in Kaneland's 8-7 loss to Oswego Saturday looked familiar to coach Brian Aversa -- which is good news for the Knights.
Kaneland committed 7 errors in the defeat, the opposite of the strong defense and pitching that carried the Knights to a key 2-1 series win this week over Sycamore.
That pushed Kaneland to 9-3 and in the lead of the Northern Illinois Big XII East race heading into the final three games of the conference season this week against Morris (7-4) who along with Yorkville (8-3) and Sycamore (8-4) is one of four teams with a shot at the title.
Kaneland (14-9) took a short break from that exciting race for a nonconference game Saturday against visiting Oswego (7-16).
While there were many more mistakes than Aversa wanted to see, the game had no shortage of drama and comebacks by both teams.
Kaneland erased a 2-0 deficit with 2 runs in the fourth inning only to again fall behind 3-2.
The Knights answered with 3 runs in the fifth for their first lead of the day at 5-3. Once again Oswego rallied with 2 runs in the sixth to tie at 5, then Kaneland once again responded with 2 runs in its half of the sixth for a 7-5 lead.
Down to their last out, the Panthers forced extra innings on a two-out, two-run home run over the left-field fence by Carter Turnquist.
Oswego's winning run in the eighth came when pinch-hitter Dominick Lukowski was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and two outs -- perhaps a fitting conclusion for a game that featured 15 runs, 28 hits, 8 errors and lasted nearly 3 hours.
"It was not us," Aversa said. "We've been playing some pretty good defense. We just made too many mistakes today."
The mistakes hurt Knights starting pitcher Colton Fellows, who worked 5 solid innings before giving way to Nick Henne, Nick Stahl and finally Curtis Thorson.
Stahl appeared ready to close out the game when he fanned 5 hitters in the sixth and seventh innings except for the one mistake that Turnquist took out of the park to tie the game.
"Our pitching has been dominating this year," Aversa said. "It was surprising to see two lead changes like that. We were one out away. That ball the kid hit over the fence was a surprise to us."
If Aversa was surprised imagine the Panthers' reaction. Not only was it Turnquist's first home run of the year, it was only the third home run of the year for the entire team.
"We've been struggling a lot defensively this year," Oswego coach Mark Johnson said. "The last week, week-and-a-half we have been playing better. It was nice to see them battle today. That was a good win."
Down 2-0 heading to the bottom of the fourth, the Knights tied the game on RBI singles by Jacob Bachio and Austin Wheatley.
Trailing 3-2 going to the bottom of the fifth, the Knights took a 5-3 lead on another run-scoring single from Bachio and a 2-run single from Danny Hammermeister.
Tied 5-5 in the last of the sixth, the Knights surged to a 7-5 lead after Wheatley led off with a single, Thorson bunted for a hit, both runners advanced on Joe Panico's sacrifice, and Tyler Carlson blasted a 2-run double.
Alas, no lead turned out to be safe.
"Hats off to them too," Johnson said of the Knights. "Every time they could have gave up they came back. It was good to see our kids battle back when Kaneland took the momentum."
Among the many hitting stars for Kaneland were Wheatley and Hammermeister both going 3-for-4, and Thorson, Carlson and Bachio all with 2 hits.
Nick Stratman robbed the Foxes of a hit with a diving catch in center, and for all the errors Kaneland made the Knights did turn a pair of double plays in the infield.
"Ty has been solid for us, Austin has been coming on the last couple games. (Nick) Stratman has really been hitting for us. We've been getting a different guy every game," said Aversa, whose team returns to the task of winning a conference championship with games at Morris Monday and Thursday and home against Morris on Tuesday.
"(Anthony) Holubecki has been dominating, Curtis pitched a great game, Nate Hopkins pitched a great game (against Sycamore)," Aversa said. "Our pitchers continue to put us in position to win."