Baseball: Rock Falls finds its timing to top Oregon
By Brian Weidman
OREGON – Patience was a virtue for the Rock Falls baseball team in its game at Oregon on Monday afternoon.
The Rockets had to adjust their approach at the plate against a trio of Hawks learning on the job, and they executed it to the tune of an 18-3, 5-inning victory.
Oregon is short on arms this season, and a trio of soft-tossing freshmen in Dom Terlikowski, Kylar Early and Owen Flanagan had the task of slowing down the Rock Falls attack. They did their best, but the result was predictable.
“It was timing, for sure,” Rock Falls cleanup hitter Luke Akerman said. “The coaches told all of us to scoot up on the plate and stay back on the pitches.”
Akerman paced a 16-hit attack for the Rockets by going 4-for-4 with a double and four runs batted in. His only out was a productive one, as it was a sacrifice fly that plated Chase Chappell in the fourth inning.
Rock Falls (5-5-1, 4-2 Big Northern) seized control right away with eight runs in the top of the first. Victor Rivera had a two-run single, and Akerman had an infield base hit to plate a run. Oregon (1-7, 0-6) contributed to the uprising with two walks, a hit batsman, an error and three wild pitches – two of which resulted with Rockets racing in from third base to score.
Rock Falls scored two runs in each of the next three innings, then put the game on ice with four more runs in the top of the fifth. Dillon Schueler put the cherry on the sundae with a three-run homer just to the left of the 370-foot sign in left-center field.
“We made the plays on defense, which is something we had been struggling with,” Rock Falls coach Donnie Chappell said. “I know it doesn’t seem like much, but we had been struggling with those plays before. That was probably the best thing. The pitchers threw strikes. Offensively, we did what we should have done.”
Oregon scored single runs in the first, third and fourth innings.
In the first, Nico Giuffre walked, stole second, went to third on a groundout, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jackson Werren.
In the third, Issac Reber, a speedster who also runs track for the Hawks, led off with a triple. He scored on a groundout by Hunter Buchanan.
In the fourth, Brody Massolle, a senior in his first year of high school baseball, reached on a one-out single, and moved to second on an error. He moved up a base on a wild pitch, then scored on a groundout by Miley Smith.
The defensive highlight for the Hawks was an inning-ending double play in the third. Carter Schueler hit a liner that was caught by Werren in center, and he doubled off Gavin Sands at second base.
Reber and Massolle had the only hits for Oregon. Rock Falls starter Tyler Richards (1-0) got the win, allowing one run, no hits and a walk in two innings. Sands tossed the last three innings.
After Akerman for Rock Falls, Chase Chappell singled twice, walked twice, drove in two runs and scored four runs. Dillon Schueler knocked in five runs, highlighted by a 3-run homer.
Rock Falls 18, Oregon 3, 5 inn.
Star of the game: Luke Akerman, Rock Falls, 4-for-4, 2B, 4 RBI
Key performers: Dillon Schueler, Rock Falls, 3-run HR, 5 RBI; Issac Reber, Oregon 3B
Up next: Byron at Rock Falls; Oregon at Dixon, both 4:30 p.m. today