Photo: Former KHS baseball player Brian Dixon (left) helped the Joliet Dirtbags baseball team beat the Crestwood Pantheers 14-4 in seven innings on Thursday in Midlothian, Ill. The Dirtbags qualified to compete in the NABF Major Regional tournament, set to begin Thursday, Aug. 1. The team features a pair of former Knights, with pitcher Kyle Davidson also on the team. Courtesy Photo
Davidson on mound, Dixon with glove help Dirtbags to 14-4 rout
MIDLOTHIAN—The Joliet Dirtbags baseball team had some nice moments before its end in the Chicago Suburban Baseball League’s postseason tournament, and two former Knights were the reason why.
Former Knight and current Millikin Big Blue Kyle Davidson pitched a strong six innings and teammate and fellow former Knight Brian Dixon played strong on the infield to propel the team to a 14-4 win over the Crestwood Panthers in seven innings last week.
The league tournament journey came to an end for the Dirtbags by a final of 9-2 on Friday at Madison Meadows in Lombard, Ill. By virtue of their finish, the Dirtbags, with five members of the Millikin team, are set to compete in the NABF Major Regional beginning on Thursday, Aug. 1.
The finals of the CSBL tourney had Lombard beat Beecher on Saturday, 8-0.
The Dirtbags, now 18-19, were faced with a total elimination on Thursday after a 13-3 rout suffered at Homewood-Flossmoor High School to the Beecher Mustangs.
However, the team turned around its fortunes against Crestwood in its big win.
Davidson was able to hold off a rally from the mound after giving up a two-run homer for a 4-3 disadvantage and fanned six members of the Crestwood lineup, giving up four runs on five hits.
“If we lost, we go home, and the same with them,” Davidson said. “We had to come out and play our best game.”
Dixon, who was moved from his usual No. 8 or No. 9 hole, to second in the order by Dirtbags skipper Kevin Campbell, smacked an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth to tie the score at 4-4.
After a bases loaded walk broke the tie, Dixon (1-for-5, RBI) came home on a two-run single, effectively icing the game at 7-4.
“I was not expecting to bat (second),” Dixon said. “I like it; it’s different and it’s nice to get a different feel, and I took a different approach to it.”
In a do-or-die situation like the one presented on Thursday, Dixon preferred the smart approach to the hacking attack.
“Now is the time to be smart, definitely,” Dixon said. “That’s the way I’m looking at it. If it’s the right pitch and right count, I’m taking it.”
Dixon, at second base, was able to stab a liner off the Panthers lineup with runners on base in the top of the fifth that protected the lead.
Joliet scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth for an 11-4 lead, and scored three more to end it via the mercy rule, the last of which coming on a passed ball.
“Looking at their stats, I knew their top four guys were probably their best, so I tried to pound them, and cruise with the other guys,” Davidson said.
The Dirtbags’ next obstacle, the NABF Major Regional, is hosted by Beecher.