The baseball gods can be very fickle.
After back-to-back Suburban Prairie (East) Conference titles, the Riverside Brookfield baseball team was poised to make another run this season. With senior catcher Russ Kesman, pitcher/third baseman Johnny Saucedo and pitcher Steve Wilhelm as the three, four and five hitters respectively, the Bulldogs had all the right pieces. And while the three-headed monster of Kesman, Saucedo and Wilhelm are all hitting over .400 this year, the rest of the Bulldog offense is no where to be found. Consequently, it is mid-season and RB finds itself in very unfamiliar territory with a 5-14-1 overall record and 3-3 record in the conference.
“The next three weeks really are our season,” said RB coach Dan Monahan. “We face three, three-game series against Elmwood, Lemont and Ridgewood and that is where our season hinges. Currently, we are hanging in the middle of the pack in the league, so we still have a chance to do well if we play good baseball.”
Playing good consistent baseball, however, has been a struggle lately for the Bulldogs. Most recently, RB faced off against Shepard in a doubleheader. Shepard defeated RB 10-3 in the first game, while the second game which was essentially a JV game, was called at 11-11 after seven innings. Errors were the story in both games for RB, with the Bulldogs committing seven in the first contest, while recording six miscues in the second frame. This, however, has been an all too common theme this year for Monahan.
“It seems if we have some good pitching, we make a lot of errors in the field,” he said. “If our pitching is bad, then we play pretty good defense; we really can’t string it together. We also continue to struggle offensively, which just begins a trickle-down effect?”we struggle at the plate, then we make some errors, then our bats get even colder.”
The first game started well for RB, jumping to a 3-0 after three innings of play. But Shepard bounced back with a couple of unearned runs and then the floodgates opened. While Shepard continued to score runs, the Bulldogs committed errors, giving Shepard even more chances to score. Out of the 10 runs Shepard scored, only five runs were earned.
Despite the loss, Monahan was happy with the pitching of Saucedo, but as mentioned, Saucedo did not receive the run support he needed.
Despite falling behind 8-1 after the first three innings in the second game, RB battled back to lead the game 11-8. Shepard, however, came back to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh, which is when the game was called. Still, the game provided the 15 juniors on the varsity this year a chance to showcase their talents and make a case for a position on varsity next year.
“We told the guys that this was their tryout this year and they know that some of them won’t make the team next year,” Monahan said. “So, we gave them this season to try and evaluate them and see how they will do at the varsity level.”
The Bulldogs host Elmwood Park on Saturday at 11 a.m.