RICHMOND – Winnebago pitcher Jason Buhl managed to do something that hadn’t been done all season: keep Richmond-Burton off the scoreboard.
Buhl held the Rockets to three hits and struck out seven in a complete-game shutout Friday, lifting Winnebago to a 6-0 Class 2A sectional championship victory.
“Their pitcher was lights out today,” R-B coach Mike Giese said. “We haven’t been shut out the whole year, and he did it to us.”
Buhl was staked to a four-run lead and held the Rockets hitless into the third inning until Brock Wood hit a one-out double to left field, but Buhl retired the next two batters to escape trouble.
R-B again got a runner in scoring position in the fourth inning. Griffin Taylor hit a line-drive single to center field and stole second base, and Hayden Christiansen flew out to the warning track in right field to move Taylor to third base. Buhl, however, again was able to stand the runner.
The Rockets’ only other hit came on a single by Christiansen to left field in the sixth inning.
“One thing that the guy was throwing was a changeup,” Christiansen said. “A lot of the guys kept chasing after it, seeing the break of it, a little harder of a cut, so all the guys were going after it, including me.”
Winnebago put up two runs right away in the first inning off R-B starter Ethan Fischer when Cade Moraska reached on a walk to open the game and Jackson Lindquist hit a one-out, two-run homer to left field.
The Indians added two more runs in the third inning off Fischer, who was lifted after 2 2/3 innings pitched. Lindquist started the rally with a single, and Sam Rummel launched a two-run homer to make it 4-0. Winnebago added its final two runs in the sixth inning with four consecutive hits.
“They beat us in all phases,” Giese said. “There wasn’t one play, or one error, or anything like that. They just beat us today, so we just tip our hats to them.”
The Rockets end their season with a 25-6 record. R-B averaged 10.6 runs a game this season en route to the Kishwaukee River Conference championship and the program’s first sectional appearance since 2013.
“They just played hard all year,” Giese said of his team. “There were no discipline issues; there were no attitude issues. They were a great team, and they made things really easy. They brought a sense of normalcy back that I think we really needed.”
Christiansen reflected on the season and his teammates after Friday’s game.
“I think our guys were really grateful for the opportunity to get out here and play,” Christiansen said. “We took advantage of it every single way we could. We take everything that we possibly can. Tough losses like today happen, but all of our guys were extremely happy and extremely lucky to have this kind of season.”