Baseball: Talented seniors depart as Hubs prepare to rebuild

Senior Brandon Johnson hit over .400 and was an ace on the mound for the Rochelle varsity baseball team this season. (Photo by Russell Hodges)

Ansteth, Etes, Greifenkamp headline returning varsity players

ROCHELLE — While members of the Rochelle varsity baseball team may be disappointed they’re not playing for postseason titles, head coach Jarrod Reynolds was proud of how the Hubs lit up the scoreboard this season. Rochelle finished 16-9 overall and 6-6 in its final season as a member of the Northern Illinois Big 12 West. The Hubs will move to the Interstate Eight Conference for the 2019-20 campaign.

“It was a good year overall and I thought we had a lot of cool moments,” Reynolds said. “We hit 31 home runs and we only gave up one home run… We had some big comebacks this season and we won more games than we lost, which was fun too. We had a lot of good players this year who did some cool things. They were definitely fun to watch play.”

Senior Johnny Beck (Western Illinois commit) led the Rochelle offense, batting .434 with seven homers and 25 RBIs while senior Brandon Johnson (Northern Illinois commit) added four homers and 26 RBIs with a .407 average. Senior Cody Johnson (Kishwaukee College commit) crushed six homers with 24 RBIs while batting .347, and senior Hayden Jones (TCS Academy commit) launched four homers with 15 RBIs.

Six Hubs held averages over .300 this season, allowing Rochelle to average 7.8 runs per game. Seniors Noah Knight (.378 with four homers and 18 RBIs), Zack Bernardin (10 RBIs) and Andrew Johnson (.279) are some of several departing seniors Reynolds and the Hubs will need to replace next season. Juniors Gavin Ansteth (.378 with three homers and 23 RBIs) and Ethan Etes (.324 with three homers and 18 RBIs) headline Rochelle’s top returning hitters.

“We were really clicking up and down the lineup toward the beginning of the season,” Reynolds said. “We had some rough weather and we got out of our groove a bit throughout the season, but that happens sometimes. We have to keep working, and our guys who will be seniors next year will have a chance to fine tune some things and get better.”

The Hubs posted a team ERA of 3.10 with 231 strikeouts in 162 and one-third innings. Beck tossed a team-high 47 and two-thirds innings for Rochelle, striking out 84 and posting a 2.79 ERA. Brandon Johnson (2.53 ERA, 36 innings and 58 strikeouts) and Cody Johnson (3.23 ERA, 30 and one-third innings and 43 strikeouts) rounded out Rochelle’s starting rotation this season. Knight and Jones combined for 33 strikeouts in 32 and one-third innings pitched.

“We had a lot of seniors who were really good pitchers and had winning records throughout high school,” Reynolds said. “They threw hard and they threw multiple pitches for strikes.”

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