by Mike Slodki
Mondayâ€™s Class 3A regional championship showed Kaneland and Burlington Centralâ€™s affinity for the long ball.
It was the Rockets who had slightly more of it.
Three costly homers by BC sent Kaneland baseball home for the season in a 6-5 defeat. The loss in windswept conditions ends the memorable season for the Knights at 23-13.
In a season that was accented by the loss of beloved teammate Jeff Malewig in December, the 2009 season is one that wonâ€™t soon be forgotten.
â€œThe way we started with all the emotion, we started with these guys and won 23 games, a school record,â€ KHS coach Brian Aversa said. â€œThis team is pretty special.â€
For the Knights, itâ€™s the third straight season of being ousted in the regional championship.
In 2007, eventual 2A State champ Neuqua Valley beat Kaneland, 4-1. 2008 had Sycamore oust Kaneland 6-5 in Dixon.
In the bottom of the first inning, Knight Jay Levita hit a home run to right centerfield for a 1-0 edge.
In the top of the third inning, Tanner Scott of the Rockets blasted a two-run shot for a 2-1 lead.
The bottom of the third had Jeff Smith reach on a bunt and Jake Fiedler hit a double to put two runners on. Smith scored on a passed ball to tie the game, and Fiedler came home on a fielderâ€™s choice put in play by Joe Gura to take a 3-2 lead.
BC battled back in the fourth when Bill Rodriguez hit a homer to tie the score. Things got bad for KHS when Austin Jarvis hit a homer off Steve Colombe in the top of the fifth to take a 6-3 lead.
The bottom of the fifth saw life from the Knights when Levita hit a two-run shot to close within 6-5.
Ty Hamer shut the Rockets down in the top of the seventh. With one out, Gura drew a walk, but catcher Mike Pritchard grounded into a double play to end the game.
BCâ€™s Nick Hahn earned the win.
On May 27, Kaneland ousted Western Sun Conference rival Rochelle 10-0 in five innings.
Smith gave up just one hit in his complete game effort. Dave Dudzinskiâ€™s second-inning homer, Joe Camaliereâ€™s fourth-inning shot and Pritchardâ€™s fifth-inning blast were plenty for the Knights to coast.
The Knights now say goodbye to a cache of seniors: John Rotella, Joe Spitzzeri, Curtis Lubic, Mike and Troy Pritchard, Levita, Ryan Stout, Gura and Smith.
Photo: Tyler Callaghan slides home safely to end the Knightsâ€™ 10-0, five-inning win against Rochelle on May 27. Photo by Mike Slodki