BELVIDERE — Rochelle hurler Johnny Beck was in firm control of his fastball when the Hubs varsity baseball team challenged Belvidere on the road Wednesday evening, and the left-handed junior’s dominance on the pitcher’s mound quickly spelled doom for the Bucs.
Beck struck out the first nine batters he faced on Wednesday, and after the Rochelle offense broke through with seven runs in the top of the sixth innings, the Hubs cruised to its second win of the season, topping Belvidere by a final score of 8-2. Beck struck out 17 batters in the game, and he carried a perfect game into the fourth inning as well as a no-hitter into the seventh inning before allowing a soft single to right field.
“My arm felt great and I thought I was throwing pretty hard with consistent speed the entire game,” Beck said. “I thought my fastball had a lot of movement on it which made it tough for them to hit… I was a little tired toward the end of the game so I had to try and locate the ball a little more as the game went on.”
Rochelle recorded just three hits over the first four innings, with junior Brandon Johnson totaling two singles and junior Hayden Jones adding one single. Looking to remain perfect at the plate, Johnson stepped up in the top of the fifth inning and belted a deep ball to right field that landed at the base of the outfield fence.
The left-handed slugger motored around second base with his eyes on third, but after an inaccurate throw from the Belvidere outfield missed the cut-off man, Johnson rounded third and sped across home plate without a play for his first inside-the-park home run as a varsity player. Johnson’s big hit gave the Hubs their first lead of Wednesday’s game.
“I knew we needed something and I wasn’t trying to do too much,” Johnson said. “I just tried to put the ball in play and when I ran toward third base I saw coach wave me toward home. I turned on the gas and I made it… I knew they were going to throw me a fastball on the first pitch so I hopped on it right away.”
Leading 1-0 after five innings, the Hubs finally broke through the Belvidere wall in the top of the sixth inning. Rochelle loaded the bases and scored its second run on an RBI single up the middle by senior Riley Lodico, and sophomore Gavin Ansteth jumped in on the action with an RBI single of his own to give the Hubs a 3-0 lead.
Brandon Johnson’s three-run triple to left field effectively sealed the Rochelle victory. The bases-clearing knock put the Hubs ahead 6-0 before RBI singles by junior Cody Johnson and senior Blake Albers made it an 8-0 game. Belvidere scored one run in each of the last two innings, but the Bucs managed just one hit all game. Rochelle improves to 2-1 overall with the win.