Baseball: Comeback effort falls short against Belvidere North

Senior Bradley Cooney recorded two RBIs during the Rochelle Hub varsity baseball game against Belvidere North on Tuesday. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Five unanswered runs not enough as Hubs lose 13-8

ROCHELLE — The Rochelle Hub varsity baseball team nearly erased a seven-run deficit Tuesday evening, when the purple and white fell behind early before scoring five unanswered runs over the fifth and sixth innings against Belvidere North in nonconference action.

Trailing 10-3 entering the bottom of the fifth inning, Rochelle recorded timely hits and showed patience at the plate, taking advantage of erratic pitching from the Blue Thunder. A two-run fifth inning and a three-run sixth inning brought Rochelle within two runs of tying the game, but a three-run frame from Belvidere North in the top of the seventh inning ultimately sealed a 13-8 win over the Hubs. Rochelle (1-3, 0-0 Interstate 8) will face Plano on the road Monday evening.

Belvidere North pulled ahead early in the game, tallying five runs in the top of the second inning. Josh Joseph’s RBI single gave the Blue Thunder a 1-0 lead before lead-off man Luke Koeller slapped a two-run double into right-center field. Grady Crocker reached on an RBI infield single two batters later, allowing Koeller to cross home plate and give Belvidere North a 5-0 lead.

Joseph drew a lead-off walk and scored on a wild pitch in the top of the third inning, pushing the Blue Thunder ahead 6-0. Rochelle found its way onto the scoreboard during the bottom of the third inning, recording three runs on three hits, two walks and an error to cut the deficit in half. Senior Colton O’Rorke reached on an error to open the frame and junior Brock Metzger smacked a single to left field two batters later. Senior Noah Lara then walked to load the bases.

Looking to drive home his team’s first run of the game, senior Alex Burnette lofted an RBI single into left field to make the score 6-1. Senior Bradley Cooney followed with a bases-loaded walk before fellow senior Garrett Gensler beat out a swinging bunt single that scored another run. Belvidere North responded in the top of the fourth inning, notching one run after Logan Koeller doubled to deep center field and Jake Ulbert reached on a fielding error by the Hubs.

The Blue Thunder extended their lead in the top of the fifth inning, where a two-run double from Ashton Duvall and another Rochelle fielding error allowed Belvidere North to surge ahead 10-3. A single and two walks loaded the bases for the Hubs in the bottom of the fifth inning, where O’Rorke delivered with a clutch two-run, two-out single up the middle to make the score 10-5.

Rochelle continued to strike in the bottom of the sixth inning, scratching three more runs to bring Belvidere North within two. The Hubs capitalized on poor pitching, drawing three walks and two hit-by-pitches to plate two runs before senior Dylan Gapski reached on an RBI infield single. Clinging to a 10-8 lead, Belvidere North added much-needed insurance in the top of the seventh inning, scoring three runs on three singles, one walk and another Rochelle fielding error.

The Hubs finished with eight hits and four errors in the loss. Metzger started on the mound for Rochelle, throwing two innings and recording three strikeouts. Burnette added one strikeout over two and one-third innings, while junior Dylan Whaley held Belvidere North to one earned run over two innings of relief. O’Rorke and Cooney each had two RBIs to lead the offense.