The Riverside-Brookfield baseball team called on excellent pitching and rolled plenty of “sevens” offensively to sweep four games from Elmwood Park last week. The Bulldogs had seven hits in each of their victories over the Tigers, who were outscored 21-6 during the Metro Suburban Conference series.
The Bulldogs’ high point came on Saturday when pitcher JT Evans threw a no-hitter in an 8-1 win over Elmwood Park in the opener of a doubleheader. Evans allowed a run due to three walks and a couple of RB errors, but also struck out eight in an outstanding complete game effort.
“JT walked a few batters and it took him awhile to get going with his velocity,” RB coach Dallas Till said. “Once he settled down, he started to dominate and really mow down the [Elmwood Park] lineup. He worked in his curveball, changeup, and he spotted his fastball. JT is a very capable pitcher.”
Riverside-Brookfield (10-6-1, 6-3 Metro Suburban Conference) scored three runs in the first, including run-scoring hits by TJ Bongiorno and Tyler Radek. The Bulldogs added three runs in the sixth inning with Vito Derango driving in two.
In Game 2, the Bulldogs pulled out a 5-3 victory behind a solid pitching performance from Adam Kuta – six innings pitched, three hits, seven strikeouts. David Skowronski belted a two-run homer, while Bongiorno and Derango both went 2-for-2. Derango, who has 16 stolen bases this season, is hoping to make a run at the single-season school record of 32.
“Vito has really been coming on for us,” Till said. “He can really make things happen on the basepaths. TJ is really hitting the ball well. I’ve got him in the four spot of our lineup because of his timely hitting. He’s finding the sweet spot, putting the barrel of the bat on the ball.”
On April 20, RB edged the Tigers 3-1 at Ehlert Park. Chris James tossed a complete game and allowed five hits while striking out 10. Charlie Morrissey, Sean Brennan and Derango paced the RB offense with two hits apiece.
“We are on a six-game winning streak and I’m happy with our pitching,” Till said of his team that also grabbed a 5-1 victory over Elmwood Park in the series opener. “I still don’t think our offense is where it needs to be, especially with a big conference series coming up [this week] against Illiana Christian.”
Illiana Christian finished one game ahead of the Bulldogs to win the conference championship last season. In addition to the motivation of meeting the defending champion Vikings, RB (6-3 conference record) also remains in the thick of the league race with Glenbard South. The Raiders have a 4-2 league mark and hold the tiebreaker over the Bulldogs, who they swept this season.
“Our focus is just taking it one game at a time,” Till said. “We’re excited about the opportunity to play Illiana Christian and see what happens.”