OTTAWA — It turns out the biggest difference between a significant, high-quality win one day and a 10-run rule loss two days later is apparently a matter of focus.
Just two days after clipping highly-regarded NIB12 crossover opponent Kaneland 8-6 on the road, the Ottawa Pirates struggled from the very start in the rematch Thursday at King Field, allowing the Knights a 6-0 lead after just two innings and ended up on the short end of an 11-1, five-inning loss.
Visiting Kaneland sent eight batters to the plate each in a two-run first inning, a four-run second and a four-run fifth against OHS starter Jared Herzog and reliever Brandon Sauvegeau. Meanwhile, the hosts made three errors and collected only five hits and one run off Kaneland's former closer, now starter Nik Panico and two off his relief, Robbie Dudzinski, as they fell to 9-11 for the year. The Knights are now 15-5 overall.
"First of all, Kaneland is a quality opponent and we knew that coming into this, a very tough week for our ballclub, the hardest one of our season with the teams we have scheduled," OHS coach Tom Hart said of one of the league East Division leaders. "On Tuesday, we played clean. Tonight, we made some mistakes.
"It's a credit to Kaneland's lineup, the way they battled Jared, how comfortable they were in the box and how they got locked in. Their pitcher (Panico) pounded the strike zone on us. From what I understand, he was their closer at the start but due to injuries they had to make changes and now he's one of their conference starters. He came right at hitters, got ahead on most every batter and that helps out your defense, keeps everybody in the game ... Another part of it is the schedule we're playing — Kaneland, last night Hall, Morris on Saturday — and we just have to keep competing."
Against Herzog, who was absolutely stellar in his last start against Sterling back on April 20, the first seven Knights reached base in one way or another, but two fielder's choice outs helped limit the damage to two runs on a wild pitch and a Nick Ortegal hit. Two walks and an error, two wild pitches and a two-RBI single by Ortegal boosted the lead to 6-0, bringing Sauvegeau to the bump for the remainder.
He surrendered an RBI double to Luke Gomes in the third and four more runs in the fifth, with the help of two Pirate miscues.
On the flip side, Ottawa had little success stringing hits together against Panico, who allowed a Luke Hill single in the first, a Herzog double and Ben Lundy bunt single in the second and a Herzog infield hit in the third before one hit got the Pirates on the board. Sauvegeau was hit by a pitch and later scored on a triple to center field by Nathan Weitzel. But despite two more hits in the fifth against Dudzinski, OHS couldn't dent the board again.
"The biggest difference between Tuesday and tonight," said Kaneland coach Brian Aversa, "was that on Tuesday, we were mentally checked out before it even started with some pregame adversity — we'll call it that — and we were not focused on that game. Ottawa did a good job of taking the field ready, took it to us and put us in a hole we were unable to climb out of. But tonight, we were focused, had a nice all-business trip down here and hit the field ready to roll. Defense played well, the bats came alive and the pitching was great tonight ... and the boys did a good job staying with it all the way through."
At King Field, Ottawa
Kaneland 11, Ottawa 1 (5 inn.)
KANELAND (11) —Gomes cf 4-1-2-2, Acevedo dh 3-2-1-1, Piercy ss 0-0-0-0, Dudzinski 1b-p 4-3-2-0, Panico p 2-0-1-0, Dresmal cr 0-2-0-0, Born 1b 0-0-0-0, Ortegal rf 3-0-2-4, Farris c 4-0-2-1, Alstott lf 3-0-1-0, Shaw 3b 3-0-0-0, Rogers 2b 1-3-1-0. Totals 27-11-12-8.
OTTAWA (1) — Weitzel cf-3b 3-0-1-1, Hill ss 2-0-1-0, Cheatham lf 3-0-1-0, Harth dh 3-0-0-0, Wendt rf 0-0-0-0, Herzog p-cf 3-0-2-0, Stevenson 3b-1b 3-0-1-0, Lundy 2b 2-0-1-0, Sauvegeau 1b-p 0-1-0-0, Mezel c 1-0-0-0. Totals 20-1-7-1.
Kaneland (10-5) 241 04 — 11 12 0
Ottawa (9-11) 000 10 — 1 7 3
LOB — Kaneland 8, Ottawa 9. 2B — Gomes, Panico, Herzog. 3B — Weitzel. SF — Acevado, Ortegal. SB — Gomes, Ortegal. HBP — Sauvegeau (by Panico).
Kaneland ip r er h bb k
Panico (W) 4.0 1 1 5 3 6
Dudzinski 1.0 0 0 2 0 1
Herzog (L) 2.0 6 5 5 3 1
Sauvegeau 3.0 5 3 7 1 0