Baseball: Sycamore shuts out Sterling in regional semi

Timely hits, strong pitching send Spartans past Golden Warriors, into title game

Sycamore's Matt Rosado (9) pitches during the game in Sycamore while taking on Morris High School on Wednesday May 1, 2024.

DIXON – Strong pitching and timely hitting added up to a regional semifinal victory for Sycamore on Wednesday against Sterling.

Matt Rosado allowed two hits in six shutout innings, and the Spartans took advantage of their scoring chances in a 4-0 win over the Golden Warriors in the Class 3A Dixon Regional at Veterans Memorial Field.

Sycamore (23-7) advances to Saturday’s regional championship game and will face Dixon.

“We just had to trust our teammates and do what we know how to do. We got some guys on base and got them in, and Matt pitched great,” junior Davis Collie said. “We just always trust what we do, what we learn and what we practice. We just trust that it’ll come in the big moments, and it did.”

Rosado didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning, but navigated around Sterling base runners in four of his six innings. He struck out five and walked one, and the biggest jam he faced came in the fifth when the Golden Warriors (13-17-1) put runners on second and third with two outs.

He escaped unscathed with a flyout to left field, one of a few hard-hit balls by Sterling where Rosado’s defense made the plays behind him.

“Everything was working tonight. My fastball, at the beginning it was a little slower, but then I really dialed in. My curveball was working too,” Rosado said. “I just tried to get in a rhythm and let my defense do the work behind me. I really trust them to have my back.”

“He always does that for us,” Collie added. “He’s always in the zone, and the ball will get put in play, but we’re always there to make the plays for him. He trusts us and we trust him out there.”

Sycamore got Rosado the lead in the bottom of the first. Kyle Hartmann ripped a one-out RBI single up the middle to drive in Collin Severson, who led off the inning with a walk and went to second on a wild pitch.

Back-to-back RBI doubles in the third inning made it 3-0 Spartans. Severson led off with a single and stole second, then Collie and Kyle Prebil smacked consecutive two-out doubles to left-center field.

Collie’s RBI single up the middle drove in Hartmann with an insurance run in the top of the fifth.

“We saw that he was throwing curveballs, and we just took advantage of it when they were over the plate. Our hitters just hit,” Rosado said. “We came into the game confident and ready to go.”

Sterling senior Garrett Polson was strong on the mound in his final game for Sterling, striking out 13 while allowing three earned runs, five hits and four walks. But the timely hits by the Spartans were too much to overcome.

“Just landing my off-speed the first couple of pitches was key,” Polson said. “This is by far the best team I’ve ever faced; they got third at state last year, and I’m sure they’ll make another deep run this year. I just worked with my off-speed stuff, kept them off balance, kept them guessing up there.”

“Really proud of Garrett and his work ethic. Last year being injured, he missed a lot of opportunities, and this year he took the ball every time we needed him to,” Sterling coach Darwin Nettleton. “I knew we were going to be in for a pitchers’ duel today. The kid’s consistently on and throwing strikes. Garrett just pitched really well.”

Sterling couldn’t get much going offensively, as its three singles all came in different innings. Tatum Allen, who led off the game with an 11-pitch at-bat against Rosado before grounding out, had two of the hits, and Mason Smithee added the other.

But the Golden Warriors couldn’t capitalize on a pair of Sycamore errors in the early innings, and never got their offense on track.

“I feel like if this was a nine-inning game, it might be closer; we were starting to figure it out in the later innings,” Polson said. “But I’m really proud of all our guys and how they fought in their at-bats. We just fought until the end.

“We took a massive step in the right direction for the program, and I’m really proud of how far we’ve come. It was a huge improvement this year.”

Nettleton was also proud of the strides Sterling made this season, and credited Polson and his fellow seniors for helping to build that foundation heading into next season.

“Our seniors … what can you say? They really stepped up this year and did everything you want your seniors to do. They were leaders, and that’s what I’m really proud of,” Nettleton said. “I wished for a better outcome, obviously, but Sycamore’s really good. I tip my cap to them and wish them the best of luck.”ar.”

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