As expected, perennial power Riverside-Brookfield and defending conference champion Illiana Christian played an outstanding three-game series in Metro Suburban Conference baseball action last week. When the back-and-forth battles settled, the Bulldogs had lost two of the three games played.

“Our club battled and was in position to win all three games,” RB coach Dallas Till said, “but we couldn’t close the door. Illiana is a solid team. These were tournament atmosphere games. Hopefully, we can learn from this series and utilize it to our advantage in the state tournament.”

Host Illiana Christian won the critical rubber game 4-3 on Friday. Jon Logli led off the third for RB with a single and moved to second base on Charlie Morrissey’s single. With two outs and runners on first and second, TJ Bongiorno hit a ball to the IC shortstop, who made an errant throw, allowing Logli to score.

The Vikings responded with two runs in their half of the frame to take a 2-1 lead, but RB senior David Skowronski belted a two-run homer in the fourth to put the Bulldogs back up.

In the final comeback of a see-saw game, Illiana Christian scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to close out the win. Riverside-Brookfield starter Chris James threw six innings and allowed no earned runs while striking out five.

The middle game of the scintillating series went the Bulldogs’ way with a 4-3 home victory. Trailing the Vikings 3-1, Skowronski again provided timely power with a two-run home run to tie the game at 3-3 in the fifth. In the Bulldogs’ last wraps, Morrissey led off the seventh with a single and Vito Derango reached via an error to put runners on first and second. Bongiorno laid down a perfect bunt to advance the runners and senior Jason Biegel was intentionally walked, loading the bases with one out. In his first game back since suffering a sprained ankle that sidelined him for two weeks, sophomore CJ Duffek provided the game-winning sacrifice fly. Starting pitcher JT Evans was the other Bulldogs’ star, tossing a complete-game and striking out seven.

Illiana Christian won the series opener 4-2 in eight innings last week. Riverside-Brookfield received another outstanding pitching performance from starter David Tortorici, who worked 7²/³ innings and allowed one earned run on seven hits. The lefty also fanned six hitters.

“Our starting pitchers threw outstanding and gave us an opportunity to win each game,” Till said. “Our hitting has been our Achilles heel all season and we need to produce more runs with runners in scoring position. I’m hoping that our hitting will improve as the weather continues to warm up.”

The Bulldogs missed the services of Andy Suzuki (injury) and Radek, who missed two of the three Illiana games due to a wrist injury. Till expects both players to return soon.