ROCHELLE — The Hubs varsity baseball team has held teams down with its pitching all season long, and the Rochelle boys continued to throw well and play strong defense when they hosted Dixon for Senior Night on Tuesday.
Two three-run innings gave the Hubs an early lead, and junior Johnny Beck’s complete game on the mound shut the Dixon offense down in Rochelle’s 8-1 win over the Dukes. The Hubs finish with a regular season record of 13-7, and Rochelle will begin the IHSA Class 3A Regional Quarterfinals on Monday, May 21 at 4:30 p.m. when they host Sandwich.
“The way Johnny has been pitching for us lately has been tremendous,” senior Riley Lodico said. “Our pitching has been really good all year and our bats have been turning on lately. We just have to keep that going as we head into regionals. We put in a lot of work on hitting the ball and we all work really well together. We’ve bonded and that’s been really big for us.”
Senior Noah Mershon singled and junior Cody Johnson doubled to ignite Rochelle’s offense in the bottom of the second inning. Senior Blake Albers reached on a dropped third strike, which allowed Mershon to score, and both Johnson and Albers scored on a two-RBI single by junior Brandon Johnson.
With his team ahead 3-0, Beck doubled to start the Hubs in the bottom of the third inning. Mershon walked with one out before Cody Johnson slapped his second double of the game and Albers notched an RBI single to help Rochelle jump ahead 6-0.
“It feels good to win since this was one of my last games here,” Mershon said. “It’s always good to beat Dixon, especially with Johnny on the mound since he was throwing hard and throwing strikes. We didn’t have much action in the field so we just needed to put the bat on the ball and score some runs. We’ve been playing as a team and I think our attitude has been different this year.”
Dixon avoided being shut out after scoring one run in the top of the sixth inning. Junior Zack Bernardin and Beck slapped back-to-back singles in the bottom of the sixth inning, and Bernardin scored on an RBI single by senior Johnny Kisner. Mershon’s RBI double plated Beck to give the Hubs a seven-run lead.
“It felt good to come out and close the regular season how we did,” senior Lawson Simmons said. “We have regionals next week and I think a win tonight really helps give us an extra push going into regionals. I think we’ve worked hard and we’ve put a lot of work in during practice. We work on getting things done and our pitching has been phenomenal. Our hitting has come through lately and that’s been big for us.”