Baseball: Hubs snap seven-game losing skid

Senior Mark Hopkins started on the mound for the Rochelle Hub varsity baseball team Wednesday evening. Hopkins struck out three batters in two and two-thirds innings. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Rochelle offense comes through in 10-7 victory over Plano

ROCHELLE — The Rochelle Hub varsity baseball team rallied for two crooked numbers on the scoreboard against the Plano Reapers on Wednesday. Rochelle will look to do more of the same when the Hubs square off with Dixon in the IHSA 3A Regional Semifinals on Friday.

Behind a four-run first inning and a six-run fourth inning, Rochelle erased a one-run deficit and defeated Plano 10-7 in the team’s final Interstate 8 Conference matchup of the season. The Hubs, who snapped a seven-game losing streak with the victory, improved to 7-11 overall.

“We needed this win to build some confidence before the regional,” senior Spencer Warborg said. “We want to make some noise in the regional and we really want that regional title. We need to find a way to get our bats going consistently and we need to keep pitching well. We feel confident in our pitching and we’re not going to back from them. That’s for sure.”

Warborg drove Rochelle’s first run of the game home in the bottom of the first inning, floating a shallow single to left field before senior Evan Meyers drilled a two-run single down the right-field line to make it a 3-0 game. Junior Nate Burdin plated another run in the next at-bat, slapping an RBI groundout to the second baseman to put the Hubs ahead of Plano 4-0.

“We have Dixon on Friday and I thought that we could gain some momentum if we could get our bats going tonight,” Burdin said. “I thought we all hit the ball well and we jumped on their pitchers today. We have to be fearless and we can’t think that they’re bigger than they are. We only had three games this season that we weren’t competitive in. I think we can stun them.”

Plano caught a spark in the top of the third inning, scoring five runs to slip ahead 5-4. The Reapers started their rally with a single before four consecutive batters reached base on a single and three walks. Another Plano single put the Reapers ahead with two outs.

Burdin reached on a dropped third strike to begin Rochelle’s six-run fourth inning. Juniors Grant Messer and Owen Angell reached on a single and an error to load the bases for junior Eric Briseno, who brought two runners home with a single to right field. After Angell scored on a passed ball, juniors Braden Alfano and Josh Lloyd drew hit-by-pitches to load the bases for Meyers, who pounded an infield single to the shortstop that brought Briseno home.

With Rochelle leading 8-5, Burdin pulled a two-run single over the head of the second baseman, plating Alfano and Lloyd to give the Hubs a five-run cushion. The Reapers belted a two-run homer in the top of the seventh inning for their final two runs. The seventh-seeded Hubs will face the second-seeded Dukes on Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Borden Field in Dixon.

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