Baseball: Burlington Central blows out Wheaton Academy
Neither baseball team saw this result coming.
No. 4 Burlington Central had scored a total of 2 runs in three regular-season losses leading up to Thursday's Class 3A regional semifinal against No. 5 Wheaton Academy.
The Warriors had limited their last three opponents to a total of 6 runs.
Both trends went out the window as Central cruised to a 14-0, five-inning victory on Rocket Hill.
Cody Carlson's grand slam highlighted a 7-run second inning, and Colton Wallace's 3-run home run fueled a 7-run third for Kishwaukee River Conference champion Burlington Central (19-14).
"We played as a team," Wallace said. "I told everyone right before the game we need to play as a team."
Wallace then nodded toward the scoreboard in right center.
"And there you have it," the senior leader said. "When we play as a team, we're unbeatable, pretty much."
Wheaton Academy (17-13), which challenged St. Francis for first place in the Metro Suburban Blue this season, was outhit 11-4.
Central starting pitcher Danny Kinney (8-0) held the Warriors to a hit and a walk in 3 innings and struck out six.
"It's a tough pill to swallow," Wheaton Academy first-year coach Justin Swider said. "Hats off to them. I'm not going to come out and make excuses or anything. That's a great baseball team. They hit the baseball and their pitcher had his stuff. He's had his stuff all year. They came out ready to play."
The victory advances the Rockets to a regional final against No. 1 subsectional seed Kaneland (26-9).
Central eliminated Kaneland last year in a sectional semifinal at Sterling, 10-8. Can the Rockets repeat that feat against this year's top seed?
"It's going to take a lot of energy and a lot of hitting," Wallace said. "We're going to see some higher velocity. We're going to see some better pitchers, like last year, when we saw Angel (Acevedo). We're just going to have to be ready to hop on a fastball, don't get late in counts and play as a team as always."
Central's home-run bats were the difference against the Warriors.
The Rockets already led 3-0 when Carlson ripped a 1-1 pitch to left field in a right-to-left crosswind. His sixth home run of the season drove in seniors Adam Finstein and Braden Seyller and junior Andrew Knowlton to make it 7-0.
"I wasn't even thinking about hitting a home run or a grand slam," Carlson said. "I just wanted to get the runners in. I wanted to do it for the team."
The Rockets led 10-0 when Wallace lofted a high-arcing, 3-run shot over the left-center field fence. It was the Concordia recruit's third home run.
"I pretty much went up to the plate with the mentality that I was going to crush the baseball," Wallace said.
Marcus Bult went 2-for-2 with a double for Wheaton Academy. Starting pitcher Peter Crowe allowed 6 hits and walked 4 in the loss.