Baseball: Hubs fall in extra-inning heartbreaker

Junior Braden Alfano fires a pitch off the mound during the Rochelle Hub varsity baseball game against Dixon on Friday. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Dixon rallies over Rochelle 14-13 in IHSA 3A Regional Semifinals

DIXON — Borden Field saw nearly 30 runs scored, several clutch base hits, multiple lead changes and extra innings Friday evening, when the seventh-seeded Rochelle Hub varsity baseball team battled the second-seeded Dixon Dukes in the IHSA 3A Regional Semifinals.

Rochelle broke the game open early, scoring six runs in the second inning to take a 7-1 lead over the higher-seeded Dukes. Dixon rallied to tie the game four different times, however, walking off with an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning to win 14-13 over Rochelle. The Hubs (7-12) scored six runs over the final three innings including four in the top of the ninth.

Rochelle struck first in the regional semifinal matchup, with junior Andy Buskohl sending an RBI single over the shortstop’s head to give the Hubs a 1-0 lead. After Dixon evened the game 1-1 with an RBI groundout in the bottom half, Rochelle opened its six-run second inning with an RBI single to center by junior Eric Briseno and a sacrifice fly by Buskohl. Senior Kyler Lara then belted a three-run triple to left field before scoring on a passed ball in the next at-bat.

Trailing 7-1, Dixon scratched runs in both the second and fourth innings to cut the Rochelle lead to four runs. The Dukes continued their surge across the fifth and sixth innings, scoring on a sacrifice fly to right field in the fifth before rallying for three runs in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single up the middle and a two-run single to right field. Rochelle erased the 7-7 tie in the top of the seventh inning, when junior Nate Burdin singled before scoring on a passed ball.

Down 8-7 and needing one run to force extra innings, Dixon tied the game once again, sending an RBI single through the left side of the infield. The seesaw affair continued in the top of the eighth inning, where Briseno crushed a solo home run over the center-field fence to put the Hubs ahead 9-8. Another RBI single to the left side saved Dixon in the bottom of the frame.

Senior Sam Hacaga came through for Rochelle in the top of the ninth inning, slapping an opposite-field, RBI single to make it a 10-9 game. The Hubs nearly broke the game open three batters later, when Buskohl pummeled an 0-2 pitch over the left-field fence for a three-run homer that made it 13-9. The Dukes refused to fold, however, loading the bases in the bottom of the ninth and scoring two runs on a catcher’s interference and an RBI single to center field.

Two wild pitches allowed two more Dixon runs to score, evening the game at 13-13 before the Dukes walked off Friday’s regional semifinal matchup on an RBI single to center. Junior Braden Alfano started on the mound for the Hubs, throwing five and one-third innings and holding Dixon to four runs. Buskohl led the offense with five RBIs, while Briseno had two RBIs.

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