ROCHELLE — LaSalle-Peru starter Jake Dahl intentionally walked Rochelle senior Johnny Beck with two outs to load the bases in the bottom of the sixth inning during Friday’s conference game between the Hubs and the Cavaliers.
The free pass allowed junior Gavin Ansteth to step up with a chance to create some cushion for Rochelle entering the seventh inning. Ansteth struck out in his first two at-bats against Dahl, but the clean-up hitter came through in the clutch, floating a two-run single into left field that effectively sealed Rochelle’s 3-1 victory over the Cavaliers. The Hubs improved to 13-3 overall and 5-2 in the Northern Illinois Big 12 West with the win.
“It felt really good because they walked Johnny and I knew it was an opportunity for me to come up big at the plate,” Ansteth said. “It worked out for us. [Dahl] was throwing good changeups that were throwing us off guard. We weren’t making contact, and even though today was an off day, we had Johnny to shut them down.”
Beck and Dahl each tossed three perfect innings to begin the game, with Beck carrying his perfection into the fourth inning before the senior left-hander belted a solo home run to right off Dahl that broke the scoreless tie and put the Hubs up 1-0. Beck fired five and one-third perfect innings before the Cavaliers singled twice in the top of the sixth inning.
“I’m glad that I’m not in the funk I was in earlier in the season,” Beck said. “I wouldn’t want it to be the opposite way where I start off amazing and then decline throughout the season… I’ve been working on my mechanics over the past week and trying to get things right. I’m glad things are looking better, but I’m still looking to continue progressing.”
Senior Noah Knight helped Rochelle escape LaSalle-Peru’s scoring threat in the sixth inning, running in and catching a line drive in shallow center for the final out of the frame. The Cavaliers put two runners on base in the seventh inning, with both players moving into scoring position with one out after the infield umpire called Beck for a balk. LaSalle-Peru took advantage, plating one run on a sacrifice fly to center.
But Beck was unfazed by the mistake, striking out his 10th batter of the evening to complete the game and seal the Rochelle victory. The Hubs begin a three-game series against Sterling this coming week.