Photo: Ray Barry dives safely back to first base in the first inning of Kaneland’s home playoff game against DeKalb on May 23. Photo by John DiDonna
by Mike Slodki
KANELAND—Sometimes too much of a good thing turns out to harm you in the end.
Kaneland baseball had to get past DeKalb in the Class 3A Kaneland Regional semifinal on May 25 in order to embark on its repeat road to Joliet, Ill., and another State plaque.
But three instances of bases-loaded situations for the Knights yielded only one run total, and the DeKalb Barbs made the most of its late-inning at-bats.
The end result was a 9-3 loss that ended the KHS campaign at 24-11.
The Knights finished last year as Class 3A champions at 26-10 after winning its final 13 contests of the year.
DeKalb went on to lose on Saturday during the regional final to Marmion Academy, 4-1, and finished 18-16-1.
This marked the second time in three seasons the Knights have exited in the regional semi, having lost to Hampshire at home in 2010.
“Things came back to haunt us,” KHS coach Brian Aversa said. “We had situations early in the game. If we took advantage of the bases-loaded situation, it would have been a completely different game.”
For Kaneland, John Hopkins earned the loss, going 4.2 innings while giving up five runs on four hits.
Ray Barry went 1-for-3 with two runs, a double and RBI, while Tom Fox went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI.
DeKalb took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but Kaneland got one back.
Barry singled and stole second and third. After Jake Razo walked and stole second, Tom Fox drove Barry home with an RBI to make it 2-1. Trever Heinle walked, but Quinn Buschbacher grounded into a 5-1-3 double play to end the threat.
Kaneland had another bases loaded opportunity in the second, but Tyler Heinle lined into a double play.
Kaneland would tie the game in the third, beginning with a Razo walk. After he moved to second on a balk, Fox drove him in with an RBI double. With one out, Buschbacher walked, but Hopkins grounded out to the pitcher and Jordan Jones struck out.
The Knights took their last lead of the year when Barry hit a one-out double, and Tyler Heinle drove him in with a single. After Razo sacrificed him over, Fox popped out to short.
DeKalb went on the offensive with three runs in the top of the fifth to take a 5-3 advantage. In the bottom of the fifth, Kaneland saw what would be its last, best opportunity.
Buschbacher drew a one-out walk, and new pitcher Drew Peters singled. With two outs, Joe Pollastrini singled for a bases loaded situation, but Barry flied out to right.
In the top of the sixth, DeKalb poured it on with four more runs to cinch the win.
“DeKalb’s a good club, they came out and proved it today. We’re good, too. We just didn’t play up to our caliber,” Aversa said.
The Knights say goodbye to Buschbacher, Trevor Storck, Fox, Tyler Heinle, Peters, Jones, Mike Tattoni, Trever Heinle, Barry, Bryan VanBogaert and Razo due to graduation.