WOODSTOCK – As Richmond-Burton’s Dalton Wood watched Woodstock North reliever Luke Freeman finish his warmup tosses in the seventh inning, teammate Tyler Anderson offered some encouraging words.
Anderson mentioned something about big players thriving in big situations, such as the very one Wood was facing with the bases loaded, two outs and trailing by two runs.
There was likely no other player the Rockets wanted hitting at that moment more than Wood.
“I think he’s only struck out two or three times in his high school career,” R-B coach Mike Giese said. “You knew he would put it in play. I was very confident when I saw Dalton coming up. He’s the guy we want up there.”
Wood ripped a line drive to left field on a 2-2 pitch to tie the score. An inning later, Griffin Taylor’s sacrifice fly scored Anderson with the winning run as R-B defeated North, 3-2, in eight innings in their Kishwaukee River Conference game.
“I was just grateful that the people got on before me and gave me that opportunity,” Wood said. “It felt good. I didn’t hit the ball very well (earlier in the game). It felt good to hit it hard somewhere.”
Sean Wallace worked two scoreless innings to pick up the victory for R-B (13-12, 10-5 KRC). Starting pitcher Luke Uhwat, who dueled with Thunder sophomore Felipe De Avila, struck out eight, while allowing three hits and one earned run through six innings.
Anderson walked and moved to third on Hayden Christiansen’s single to right-center field, then scored on Taylor’s sacrifice fly to right field.
“I was looking at the sign coach gave me, a hit-and-run, and the runner took off and I made really good contact and got him over,” Christiansen said. “That sac fly was awesome. To hit that ball and feel that, it’s nice.”
North (8-12, 6-7) got a leadoff double in the eighth inning from Jacob Laha and Aaron Montgomery reached on an error. Wallace caught a pop-up bunt, then a slow tapper back to the mound. Bryce Nolan walked to load the bases, but Wood fielded Ryan Zinnen’s sharp grounder to shortstop and tossed to second for the forceout to win the game.
The way De Avila was throwing, Giese was not certain the Rockets could pull off a tying rally in the seventh.
"We told them in the last inning, ‘Don’t swing until you have a strike.’ " Giese said. "I didn’t want us swinging at bad pitches. I wanted to make sure we were going to put ourselves in a good situation. It worked for us.”
De Avila eventually reached the IHSA’s pitch limit (105) and was pulled. Thunder coach John Oslovich said it was one of the best outings for De Avila, who struck out six, allowed three hits and no earned runs.
“He put us in a good spot to win,” Oslovich said. “That’s the best he’s looked in a few weeks. This has kind of been the story the last few weeks, we play well for a decent stretch, but it’s just not enough.”
Uhwat took a no-hitter into the fourth inning before Aaron Montgomery reached on an error and Mason Carlisle singled. Bryce Nolan then doubled in the Thunder’s two runs.
STAR OF THE GAME
Dalton Wood, Richmond-Burton, jr., SS
With the Rockets down to their final strike, Wood ripped a bases-loaded single to tie the score in the top of the seventh inning. They won an innning later.
5: Hits for each team.
AND ANOTHER THING...
R-B was down to its last strike twice in the top of the seventh inning. Leadoff man Clayton Jarocki worked a full count against starter Felipe De Avila before drawing a walk. Wood, hitting second, reached a 2-2 count before hitting the tying single.
Richmond-Burton 3, Woodstock North 2 (8 inn.)
Richmond-Burton 000 000 21 – 3 5 3
Woodstock North 000 200 00 – 2 5 1
WP: Sean Wallace (2IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 0K). LP: Laha (1IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 1K).
Top hitters–Richmond-Burton: Dalton Wood 1-4 (2RBIs), Clayton Jarocki 1-3, Tyler Anderson 1-3 (R), Hayden Christiansen 1-3. Woodstock North: Bryce Nolan 1-3 (2B, 2RBIs), Mason Carlisle 1-4 (R), Brayden Klesch 1-2.