ROCHELLE — Ten seniors on the Rochelle Hub varsity baseball team were honored before Monday’s Interstate 8 Conference home-and-home series opener against Kaneland.
Seniors Nate Burdin, Eric Briseno, Braden Alfano, Owen Angell, Danny Reyes, Josh Lloyd, Andy Buskohl, Forrest Gerber, Jacob Andrist and Grant Messer each received a warm welcome from home fans and families in attendance as the Hubs looked to open their series against the Knights with a win. Kaneland’s offense proved too much, however, with the Knights scoring six runs in both the fourth and fifth innings to win 17-4 and hand the Hubs their sixth straight loss.
“We have a group of seniors who really love baseball and they enjoy being around each other,” head coach Jarrod Reynolds said. “We wish them the best going forward and a lot of them are going to school so we’re rooting for them to have a great college experience moving forward.”
Johnny Spallasso’s two-run single helped Kaneland take a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Rochelle (5-12, 4-9 Interstate 8) evened the score with three runs in the bottom of the first inning, where Briseno singled to lead off the frame and scored on Burdin’s RBI double to center field. Buskohl plated Burdin with a sacrifice fly before junior Colton O’Rorke, on base as a courtesy runner, stole second and eventually scored on an outfield error by the Knights.
Three Hub errors allowed two Kaneland runs to score in the top of the third inning, giving the Knights a 5-3 advantage before back-to-back six-run frames effectively sealed the Kaneland win. Lloyd belted a solo home run over the left-field fence in the bottom of the fifth inning for Rochelle’s final run of the game. The Hubs will face Kaneland on the road Wednesday night.
“We still have a chance to go out there and win a regional, but we have to play better than we’ve been playing recently,” Reynolds said. “We don’t have much room for error. We need to play good defense and have some timely hits. We’ve had chances to win close games throughout the season and we’ll need to do those things if we hope to make a run. Our pitching has been pretty good, but we’ve struggled on defense and we’ve struggled to put the ball in play.”