When asked about momentum in baseball, former Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver said, “Momentum is next day’s starting pitcher.” For the Riverside-Brookfield baseball team, the “Big Mo” arrived last week via a winning streak courtesy of four compliant nonconference opponents.
Riverside-Brookfield (15-8-1, 7-5) defeated Wheaton Academy, Walther Lutheran, Gordon Tech and Shepard.
“Our goal is to be playing our best baseball when the state tournament starts,” said RB coach Dallas Till said, “and [this week] was a step in the right direction. Our pitching was solid and a number of people stepped up in clutch situations.”
TJ Bongiorno certainly provided a clutch hit during the Bulldogs’ 2-1 victory over highly-regarded Wheaton Academy on Saturday. With the score knotted at 1-1 in the seventh, Bongiorno (2-for-3, double) hit a soft flare that landed just past the Warriors’ shortstop, allowing Tyler Radek to score the decisive run from third base. JT Evans struck out two in the final inning to pick up the save. Left-hander David Tortorici allowed one run and six hits, while fanning four in six innings. Vito Derango (1-for 2, 2 stolen bases) and Radek (2-for-3, RBI, run) contributed offensively for RB.
The Bulldogs won another thriller with their 3-2 victory over visiting Walther Lutheran on Friday. In the bottom of the seventh inning, junior John Logli walked and Sean Brennan (2-for-3) singled, putting runners on first and second. With two outs and two on, Charlie Morrissey (2-for-4) crushed a fastball into deep center to easily score Logli for the game-winner. Although he didn’t earn a decision, starter Ryan Brown threw well, giving up no earned runs and four hits over six innings.
“I’m proud of our club and the resolve the kids showed,” Till said. “This team has a lot of heart. We’re playing good baseball and finally getting back to full strength after suffering a number of setbacks due to injury.”
Riverside-Brookfield defeated Gordon Tech 8-5 at Ehlert Park on Thursday. Fueled by the aggressive base running of Derango (2-for-4, 3 stolen bases) and a two-RBI single from Bongiorno, the Bulldogs scratched their way to a 2-1 lead in the first inning. Enjoying an outstanding senior campaign, Bongiorno (2-for-3, 4 RBIs) struck again by belting a two-run homer during a four-run fourth, which gave the Bulldogs some breathing room. Starter Chris James earned the win and Adam Kuta pitched a scoreless inning to notch the save.
The Bulldogs began their perfect week by outslugging Shepard for a 9-8 win. Riverside-Brookfield received the No. 3 seed in the Nazareth Sectional for the state playoffs. Nazareth and St. Joseph are the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively, with fourth-seed Lake View and fifth-seed Gordon Tech lurking as other contenders.
The Bulldogs close out this week with a Senior Day doubleheader against Argo on Saturday.