After battling Nazareth to a 4-4 tie in a much-anticipated nonconference showdown early last week, the Riverside-Brookfield baseball team handled its most pressing business with flying colors in sweeping four games from Illiana Christian in Metro Suburban Conference action.
The Bulldogs’ bashing offense, averaging over 10 runs per game, has been the story of the spring. All that offensive thunder coupled with a solid pitching rotation of Will Kincanon, Alex Nenadovic, Kevin Garvey, Matt Quintana and Tom Leary understandably has RB brimming with confidence.
“It’s funny because I told [RB assistant coach] Mark Ruge, it felt like we were in prison offensively [last season] because we struggled scoring runs,” said RB coach Dallas Till. “This year has been totally different. We have a senior-dominated group. Our guys are putting the ball in play and taking advantage of scoring opportunities.
RB (12-1-1, 3-0) dominated the series against Illiana, outscoring the Vikings 46-17. On Saturday, RB took two games from Illiana Christian by scores of 17-7 and 7-4. In Game 1, Nenadovic struggled on the mound, allowing seven runs and nine hits over five innings; however, the 5-9 senior came up big at the plate with three hits and four RBIs. CJ Duffek (2-for-2, 2 RBIs), Joe Duffy (2-for-4, 3 RBIs), Angelo Gabino (2-for-2) and Garvey (2-for-4, 3 runs) also led the Bulldogs’ 15-hit parade. Trailing 5-4, RB exploded for 13 unanswered runs en route to the five-inning victory.
In the nightcap (slated as a nonconference game), Quintana (2-1, 1.62 ERA) gave up eight hits and fanned three over four frames to earn the win and Tom Leary picked up the save. Gabino went 2-for-3 with an RBI and run scored, while Duffek scored twice and stole two bases.
The Bulldogs rocked Illiana Christian 12-1 in the second game of the series and 10-5 in the opener. In the 12-1 victory, Kincanon (4-0, 1.06 ERA) tossed a two-hit, 11-strikeout gem over six innings of work.
“I’ve been throwing the ball really well,” Kincanon said. “I’m getting ahead in the count and [then] I can effectively use my off-speed pitches along with my fastball. We’re also killing the baseball on offense which always helps.”
RB collected eight hits and 10 walks with Eric Loury, Leary and Garvey scoring two runs apiece to fuel the offense.
In the opener at Ehlert Park, Leary tossed a four-hitter for the win. Luke Keller led RB with three hits, supported by two RBIs each from Duffek, Garvey and Kincanon.
The only “relative” blemish on an otherwise excellent week occurred in the Bulldogs’ 4-4 tie against Nazareth. RB held a 4-3 lead entering the bottom of the 10th inning after Duffek’s clutch RBI double; however, the Roadrunners evened the score with two outs on a passed ball. Darkness ended the game.
“We were in a position to win so to end in a tie was disappointing,” Till said. “I was happy with our effort, and I think the [Nazareth] game helps prepare us for the playoffs.”