OTTAWA — While different players will step up and shine on a given day, it takes an entire team to win a high school baseball game. It's just that in the case of the series between the Ottawa Pirates and Rochelle, things are seldom as one way or the other as they've been the first two of the three contests.
Rochelle broke open a pitcher's duel late (0-0 through 5 innings) and won the opener 6-0 at home on Tuesday behind very strong mound work, then broke out the bats in Game 2, collecting 13 hits against four OHS pitchers and claimed a 14-8 decision over the Pirates here at King Field on Wednesday.
A little of that tough Hubs pitching remained, with John Kisner coming on in relief after the Pirates scored five runs in the home half of the first inning and two more in the second on starter Brandon Johnson. Kisner limited Ottawa to one run on three hits over the final 4 1/3 innings and his teammates broke through for a game-deciding three-run fourth.
Wyatt Hill collected three of OHS' 10 hits, while Logan Cheatham and Ryan Wendt each added two safeties, but that wasn't enough to overcome the opportunistic Hubs attack, which capitalized on nine walks issued and two errors committed by the Pirates to score the win.
"Last night, it was a pitcher's night. Tonight, it was a hitters night," said Ottawa coach Tom Hart. "Our kids know that when we're down, we're going to bounce back and they really responded in that first inning. Our relief guys struggled to throw strikes at times, struggled with their command, but they're position players, too, and we have to find a way to keep them sharp on the mound as well as at their other positions ... Credit their reliever for going four-plus innings and giving up just the one run.
"But tomorrow is a new day and we'll see what another game with Rochelle brings."
On this day it brought a five-hit, three-run first against OHS starter Brandon Sauvegeau, but the Pirates got those runs back and more in its half, starting with a Ben Lundy single. He scored after a wild pitch and Sauvegeau's RBI grounder, which was erred. A single by Jared Herzog, a walk to John Bruner and a single by Cheatham plated one run, another coming in when the ball rolled through the right fielder. Wendt then smacked an RBI triple to cap the five-run uprising.
The Pirates answered two runs in the third with two of their own on a Bruner double, Hill's run-scoring single and a wild pitch that scored Cheatham, taking a 7-5 lead. But while Kisner came in to shut down that rally and essentially the hosts the rest of the way, the Hubs took the lead for good in the top of the fourth on a three-run triple to Noah Mershon off Lundy, on the bump after two innings by Bruner.
One dire situation occurred in the bottom of the fourth inning when Rochelle right fielder Riley Lodico dove for a foul flyball off the bat of Wendt and crashed into the fence, striking a metal support pole. The game was delayed over a half-hour while trainers and medical personnel prepared him to be transported by Ottawa Fire Department ambulance to OSF St. Elizabeth Hospital.
Instead of being distracted by the incident, the Hubs instead rallied for their teammate, adding two more runs in the fourth and four runs (only one earned) off the Pirates fourth pitcher of the day, Nathan Weitzel.
"It was a marathon game for sure, just one of those we just had to keep going, keep playing, keep persevering and the kids did a really good job of that," said Rochelle coach Jared Reynolds. "We started really rough, but the kids did a really good job of keeping their heads in the game and coming back ... Johnny did a great job, getting better as he went on, getting his secondary pitches over and our defense did a better job making plays behind him, too ... I didn't like how we started very much at all, but I definitely liked how we finished this one tonight."
At King Field, Ottawa
Rochelle 14, Ottawa 8
ROCHELLE (14) — B. Johnson p-lf 3-2-0-0, Kisner 3b-p 5-3-3-1, Beck dh 4-2-2-1, R, Mancinas lf-3b 0-0-0-0, C. Johnson c 5-0-3-2, L. Mancinas cr 0-2-0-0, Jones 1b 4-2-1-2, Anseth 2b 3-1-2-1, Mershon cf 5-0-2-4, Lodico rf 3-0-0-0, Albers rf 1-0-0-0, Bernardin ss 1-2-0-0. Totals 34-14-13-11.
OTTAWA (8) — Lundy ss-p 4-1-1-0, Weitzel 2b-ss-p 4-0-0-0, Sauvegeau p-1b 4-1-0-1, Herzog cf 4-0-1-0, Bruner 3b-p 2-3-1-0, Hill dh-2b 4-1-3-1, Stevenson 1b-3b 0-0-0-0, Cheatham lf 2-2-2-2, Wendt rf 4-0-2-1, Mezel c 3-0-0-0. Totals 31-8-10-5.
Rochelle (4-1, 2-0) 302 320 4 — 14 13 2
Ottawa (6-6, 0-2) 502 001 0 — 8 10 2
LOB — Rochelle 8, Ottawa 9. 2B — Beck, C. Johnson, Bruner, Hill. 3B — Mershon, Wendt. SF — Cheatham. SB — Kisner 2, B. Johnson, Herzog, Bruner. HBP — Bruner, Mezel (by Kisner).
Rochelle ip r er h bb k
B. Johnson 1.2 7 4 7 4 2
Kisner (W) 4.1 1 1 3 0 5
Sauvegeau 1.0 3 3 5 1 1
Bruner 2.0 2 2 3 2 0
Lundy (L) 2.0 5 5 4 4 1
Weitzel 2.0 4 1 1 2 4