Baseball: Rohlfing, Harvest hammer Aurora Christian in sectional semis

Pitching, defense and offense.

Harvest Christian excelled in all areas in cruising past Aurora Christian 9-1 in Class 1A Harvest Christian sectional semifinal action Wednesday at Judson University in Elgin.

The host Lions (26-5) will play the winner of Thursday's Ottawa Marquette-Chicago Hope Academy Saturday for the sectional title at 1 p.m. Aurora Christian ends the 2023 campaign with a 21-10 record.

Harvest pitcher Sam Rohlfing, who missed 2 1/2 weeks with a UCL (elbow) inflammation, was outstanding on the mound.

The hard-throwing right-hander allowed 1 run on 4 hits in 7 innings of work. Rohlfing struck out 6 and walked 1.

"I was really locked in," said Rohlfing. "My fastball was dominant."

Lion coach Matt Ellett was impressed with Rohlfing's effort.

"Sam was outstanding," said Ellett. "He is the heart and soul of this team."

The Lions seized control of the game in the first inning with 3 runs. That is all the runs the sectional hosts would need.

Kaden Meeker led off the game with a single and scored on an RBI triple from Gavin Duran. Rohlfing helped his own cause with a run-scoring double.

"I knew we were really ready to play," said Ellett. "We have great senior leadership on this team. We really came out and swung the bats. We were very aggressive at the plate."

The Lions added 2 in the second on a 2-run single by Duran.

Harvest scored 1 in the third on a run-scoring single by Eddie Figueroa and put the game on ice in the fourth on a long 3-run homer from Ben Mitchell.

"It was a curve ball and I expected it," said Mitchell. "It was hanging and I was sitting on it."

With 9 hits, the Lions got a 2-for-3 effort from Duran, who had 3 RBI and scored 2 runs.

The Lions defense turned a double play and didn't commit an error.

The Eagles' lone run came on a solo homer by Adan Rocha in the sixth.

"The playoffs aren't a best of three series," said Aurora Christian coach Andy Zorger. "It is just one game. They did their homework and really swung the bats. We just couldn't get the big hit. We had a great season. We lost four of our top five pitchers from last season. We won the regional and ended up with a 21-10 record. We competed all season."

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