With three conference games left this week, the Riverside-Brookfield baseball team has a viable shot at winning a third straight Metro Suburban Conference title. Only this time around the Bulldogs have company.
League newcomer Illiana Christian currently holds a share of first place with RB (both teams are 10-2 in conference). The Vikings own the tiebreaker by winning two of three games against RB this season.
“We just have to win out [in conference] and maybe Illiana loses a game or two,” RB coach Mike Ziroli said. “Obviously, we would like to win conference but we’re also looking to finish strong and get ready for the playoffs.”
After a 1-7-2 start the Bulldogs have been playing better baseball, winning 13 of 16 games including a three-game sweep of Fenton last week.
The Bulldogs won a pair of games against the Bison 11-1 and 13-5 on Saturday at Ehlert Park. In Game 1, Alex Brown (4-3, 2.16 ERA) pitched five innings and allowed three hits while striking out six and walking four. Alex Cebular paced the offense with a home run and four RBIs and Matt Scott (hitting .507, 31 RBIs) added a two-run single. Matt Kenahan, Billy VandeMerkt and Vito DeRango also contributed in the 11-1 victory.
Riverside-Brookfield scored five runs in the first inning and eight runs in the sixth to cruise past Fenton 13-5 in Game 2. Charlie Morrissey and Scott did most of the damage. Both went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Tyler Radek (2-for-3), Dylan Beketic (2-for-4, RBI) and VandeMerkt (2-for-4, RBI) all had multiple hit games, while Kenahan and Cebular drove in two runs each.
Kenahan, who plans on playing football and baseball at Washington University (Mo.) next year, was also effective on the mound. He worked six innings to pick up the complete game victory. Kenahan gave up five hits and struck out three.
On May 5, RB edged host Fenton 5-4 in the series opener. Riverside-Brookfield battled back from a 4-2 deficit to pull out the victory. Cebular (2-for-3, 2 RBIs) was the hero, knocking in the game-winning run with a double in the seventh inning. DeRango went 2-for-4 with a double and stolen base.
The Bulldogs face Elmwood Park in their critical three-game set before closing out the regular season with tough non-conference games against Stagg, Montini, Fenwick and Glenbard South.
“We know what we’re up against,” Ziroli said, alluding to the non-conference games. “It’s good preparation for the playoffs because we will face every team’s No. 1 or No. 2 starters.”
Riverside-Brookfield is the No. 2 seed in the Nazareth Sectional. The state playoffs begin May 26.