Baseball: Sectional turns into Knightmare for Kaneland
No one saw that coming.
Kaneland's captain might as well have been named Murphy, because just about everything that could go wrong did as the Knights fell to Dixon, 13-3, in 5 innings in the semifinals of the Class 3A Sycamore sectional.
The Knights gave up 10 walks, 2 hit batters, 7 wild pitches, and made 4 errors. Meanwhile, the offense generated just 2 hits: a bloop and an infield roller.
"A lot of self-imposed injuries today that aren't characteristic of our type of baseball," said Knights coach Brian Aversa. "I'm still waiting for my alarm to go off and wake up and be, 'Oh, it was just a nightmare,' and go back out and get it today.
"We picked a bad day to play our worst game of the year."
Kaneland (27-10) went ahead 3-2 in the bottom of the first. In the second, Knights starter Nik Panico got 2 quick outs and got 2 strikes on Dixon's Isaic Sanchez. He didn't get the call on a borderline pitch that would have been strike 3 and ended up walking Sanchez. What followed? Two soft hits, another walk, a stolen base, a wild pitch, and the Dukes suddenly led 4-3.
Having thus seized the momentum, Dixon added 5 more in the third. They scored 4 times in the fourth, capped by Tucker Cole's 2-run homer to deep left field.
It was frustrating to see the game turn so quickly on a matter of a few inches.
"Yeah, but you can't make any excuses," Panico said. "You've got to get after it the next pitch and sometimes it just doesn't fall your way."
Still, the season as a whole was hardly a failure.
"We had a few goals," Panico recalled. "One was 20 wins, we got 20 wins, conference champs by ourselves, we ended up doing that, win a regional championship which we got. It didn't end the way we want but, in the end, there's only one winner."
Dixon, which advances to Saturday's sectional championship, got 3 hits and 3 RBI from Payton Lawrence, and 2 hits from Theodore Van Sickle. Cole finished with 2 hits, 3 runs batted in and 4 runs scored.
Dalton Askew and Tommy Shaw accounted for the Knights' 2 hits.
Dixon starter Andrew Long looked like his day might be a short one. He struggled in the first inning, issuing 3 walks, hitting 2 batters and giving up Askew's hit. He allowed 3 runs in that inning but escaped further damage because Kaneland had a runner picked off second and another thrown out at the plate.
Long then settled down and allowed just 2 baserunners over the final 4 innings.