By Todd Rohde~SPORTS CORRESPONDENT

As the saying goes, every good thing has to come to an end at some point in time or another. And unfortunately for the Richmond-Burton baseball team, that time came sooner than the Rockets would have liked it too before they could reach their ultimate goal of reaching the State Tournament.

The Rockets have plenty to be proud of as they put together an exciting and respectable playoff run once again.

Richmond finally met their match though when they collided with an experienced Wauconda program May 30th, where the Bulldogs found a way to bring the season to an end for the Rockets by defeating them.

The Rockets were on the losing end of a 9-1 loss at the hands of the Bulldogs (20-8) in the IHSA Class 3A Grayslake Central Sectional semifinal game. This was the second straight season now that the Rockets, who finished the season with a 16-14 overall mark, fell in the opening round of the Sectionals.

It looked like on paper like it was going to be pretty solid contest between two evenly-matched teams, who were seeded No. 1 within their brackets.

But once the game began, the Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead and stole the momentum and the Rockets couldn’t battle their way back into it.

Mike Kaska started the game and took the loss for the Rockets, after giving up two runs on three walks in just an inning of work. Ryne Blanton came on in relief and was touched for another seven runs on nine hits with three strikeouts in six innings of work.

This was kind of an unusual experience for the Rockets, as they have relied on quality pitching efforts all season long to keep them in games and provide them with leadership.

To make matters worse, the Rockets struggled to get anything going against Wauconda ace Brandon Gibis who allowed just one run on a mere two hits with eight strikeouts in the complete-game win.

Wauconda plated a pair of runs in each of the first two innings to jump out to a quick 4-0 lead and never trailed in the game, as they added two more insurance runs in the fifth and another three in the seventh. In addition to their 13 hits on the day, the Bulldogs also took advantage of three fielding miscues by the Rockets and several walks in the game to score runs.

Richmond’s biggest threat came in the fourth inning, when they looked like they were going to claw their way back into it. The Rockets had the bases juiced with no outs in the inning, but were only able to scrap across one run when Kory Klicker scored on Mike Kaska’s fielder’s choice groundout.

This pretty much set the tempo for the rest of the contest, as the Rockets continued to struggle to get anything going and the Bulldogs could do no wrong by padding their lead with more run.

Klicker and Matt Malecki had the Rockets only two hits in the game, both of which were singles. Wauconda’s Gibis helped his own cause in the game by coming up with three hits including a double and two RBIs, as Jeff Lindberg and Austin Piekarski combined for four hits including a pair of doubles, had two RBIS and scored three runs.

Despite being disappointed with the defeat, the Rockets have plenty to look forward to again next season. They will return a good core starting players with a great deal of experience and athleticism.

 

 
 

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