Knights add Sectional, Supersectional title to historic campaign
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—It figures the 16th year of the Kaneland varsity baseball program would wind up being the sweetest.
With a successful throw to second base resulting in a “caught stealing” in the scorebook, the Kaneland Knights (24-10) defeated Peoria Notre Dame (PND) (27-7) 8-3 on Monday evening at Augustana College’s Swanson Stadium near Rock Island, Ill., clinching a supersectional championship.
The win, the Knights’ 11th in a row, wrote Kaneland’s ticket to the IHSA Class 3A State Tournament in Joliet, Ill., at Silver Cross Field beginning this Friday, June 10.
Before the recent acquiring of playoff hardware, Knights baseball had not made it out of a regional.
Preceding the unchartered territory for the Northern Illinois Big XII Conference crew, the Knights clinched the Rochelle Sectional championship with a 6-3 win over Aurora’s Marmion Academy on Saturday morning, and earned a spot against the Cadets with a comeback 7-4 win over Woodstock’s Marian Central Catholic on June 1.
Drew Peters improved to 4-1 with six innings pitched, allowing three runs on five hits. KHS handed the Irish pitcher Vince Cicciarelli his first loss (10-1).
Bobby Thorson went 1-for-3 with two runs scored and three RBI, while Drew French went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI.
PND squeezed a run home on a bloop hit to right field, but Kyle Davidson started matters in the bottom of the first getting plunked, and on a sacrifice attempt by Cory Landers, the second baseman’s error put two men on. Joe Camiliere walked. Thorson grounded into a fielder’s choice to get the tying run in. A grounder to short by Sam Komel was mishandled, allowing the go-ahead run in.
The third inning began with a walk to Landers. With one out, Thorson was hit by a pitch. Komel’s single brought home Landers for a 3-1 lead, and Komel advanced to second on an error. French’s two-run double made in 5-1. Three more runs came home in the fourth inning as nine men batted for an 8-1 lead, before PND scored two in the fifth, but it would get no closer.
Rightfielder Jacob Razo also made a catch and doubled off a runner in the first inning, for the second time in these playoffs, setting the tone and highlighting a theme.
“Anybody here can make a great play at any time in the field, and at the plate we were relaxed and just got on base” Landers said.
Against Marmion under a blazing sun, Thorson improved to 6-3 in five innings of work, while Peters earned the save with two innings of one-hit ball. Camiliere went 2-for-3 with an RBI, with the big blow being Thorson’s two-run homer in the top of the fifth after Camiliere singled, breaking a 3-3 tie.
“I just got out in front of it,” Thorson said. “We just showed mental toughness today, it was killer out there on the mound, and I only threw two breaking pitches. I gave all I had for five innings and Drew got in there.”
Thorson also doubled home the first KHS run in the very first frame.
Against the Hurricanes, Peters earned the win in relief and Thorson not only earned the save, but also cracked the winning HR.
IHSA Class 3A State
Friday, June 10, 10 a.m.
Oak Forest Bengals vs.
Nazareth Academy (LaGrange Park) Roadrunners
Friday, June 10, Noon
Kaneland Knights vs.
Saturday, June 11, 11 a.m.
Oak Forest/Nazareth Ac. winner vs.
2011 Kaneland Knights baseball
Quinn Buschbacher Jr.
Brian Dixon Sr.
Tom Fox Jr.
Trevor Storck Jr.
Tyler Heinle Jr.
Corey Landers Sr.
Bobby Thorson Sr.
Joe Camiliere Sr.
Drew Peters Jr.
Drew French Sr.
Dalton Allen Jr.
Jordan Jones Jr.
Mike Tattoni Jr.
Trever Heinle Jr.
Ryan Fuchs Jr.
Kyle Davidson Sr.
Sam Komel Sr.
Shane Fergus Jr.
Ray Barry Jr.
Bryan VanBogaert Jr.
Jake Razo Jr.