OTTAWA — After coming back from five runs down to stun the Ottawa Pirates on Monday, the Rochelle varsity baseball team received a taste of its own medicine when the Hubs traveled for Game 2 of the three-game conference series on Tuesday.
Despite building a 10-2 lead entering the bottom of the sixth inning, the Hubs were unable to secure the series victory. Four Rochelle errors and nine unanswered Ottawa runs over the final two innings allowed the Pirates to shock the Hubs by a final score of 11-10 to drop Rochelle to 4-2 overall and 1-1 in conference play. The Pirates scored two runs in the seventh inning (one on a fielder’s choice and one on an error) to earn the walk-off win over the Hubs.
“We just have to make plays,” head coach Jarrod Reynolds said. “I think we’re doing really well in two phases of the game… When ground balls are hit right at us, we have to make outs on those balls, and we struggled with that during the game. It was a hard loss to take, and as a coach it was a hard loss to stomach, but we know the things we have to work on.”
Senior Brandon Johnson tossed two scoreless frames, recording four strikeouts for the Hubs before Ottawa struck first with two runs in the bottom of the third inning. The Pirates capitalized on back-to-back walks and an RBI double to take the lead 2-0 over Rochelle. Junior Ethan Etes walked and scored on senior Cody Johnson’s RBI triple in the fourth inning to give the Hubs their first run of the evening.
Rochelle continued with six more runs in the top of the fifth inning to take a 7-2 lead. Senior Zack Bernardin bunted for a single and scored on senior Noah Knight’s RBI double. Junior Gavin Ansteth put the Hubs up 3-2 with an RBI single, and after Brandon Johnson singled to right field, both Ansteth and Johnson scored on senior Johnny Beck’s RBI single to right-center.
Cody Johnson’s two-out RBI double plated Beck, and Cody scored on senior Andrew Johnson’s RBI single. Leading by five runs, Rochelle added three more in the sixth inning after Ansteth’s two-run homer to right-center and an RBI triple by Etes.
“We swung the bat really well,” Reynolds said. “We sometimes don’t start off quickly, but it seems that the second and third time through the order, our kids really start getting locked in… We’ve scored at least eight runs in all but one of our games and I don’t think I can really complain about that.”
The game soon unraveled for Rochelle, however, as Ottawa took advantage of three Hub errors and three HBPs in the bottom of the sixth inning to cut the Rochelle lead to 10-9. Five consecutive Pirates reached base in the bottom of the seventh inning, with Ottawa scoring the tying run on a fielder’s choice and the game-winning run on an error. Brandon Johnson finished with nine strikeouts, two hits and three earned runs allowed in five and one-third innings pitched for the Hubs.
“I was pleased with Brandon’s start,” Reynolds said. “He was throwing hard, he was throwing strikes and he had pretty good command of his breaking ball. He did a really good job for us, and the only reason we took him out of the game was because of pitch-count rules.”