Seven errors and two highly questionable balk calls on Riverside-Brookfield High School pitcher Will Kincanon. Those are the only statistics anybody really needs to know regarding Montini’s 4-2 win over Riverside-Brookfield High School in the semifinals of the Glenbard South Sectional last Thursday.
“We had seven errors and a missed call on a called pickoff play, so how can you expect to win,” RBHS coach Dallas Till said. “We didn’t really deserve to win, which is unfortunate because Will [Kincanon] pitched well enough to win but our guys need to make plays behind him. It’s a miracle the score was 4-2.”
With Kincanon, a Class 3A All-State pitcher on the mound, the Bulldogs certainly had a shot on paper against the higher-seeded Broncos. Last year, Kincanon threw a no-hitter against Montini in a regional championship matchup at Jaycee/Ehlert Park.
Kincanon’s impressive reputation and favorable history against Montini aside, the senior right-hander simply couldn’t overcome his team’s ragged defensive work.
Tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth, the Broncos’ Eddie Bava reached base on a throwing error by the Bulldogs. After Kincanon retired the next two batters, Jake Mencacci tripled to deep right field scoring Bava for a 3-2 Broncos lead. Teammate Pat Hennessy added an infield single, scoring Mencacci to provide Montini a valuable insurance run and 4-2 advantage.
“Things happen in baseball,” Kincanon said. “[Errors] are part of the game but I try to pitch around it. I gave up a big hit [Mencacci’s triple] when I had a chance to get out of it. That’s my fault.”
The Bulldogs threatened with two baserunners on in the sixth and another runner aboard in the seventh; however, Montini pitcher Sean Frontzak worked 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to quell both rally attempts.
Trailing Montini 1-0 after three innings, RBHS scored two runs in the top of the fourth for its lone lead of the game. Kincanon led off with a double and advanced to third on a wild pitch from Montini starter Tyler Quick. RBHS cleanup hitter/catcher Justin Agne, who hit .320 with 20 RBIs on the spring, laced a single up the middle to score Kincanon. Brian Kulaga, who enjoyed a breakout postseason, added an RBI single scoring Max Duve to give RBHS its 2-1 advantage.
“I was struggling earlier this season but Coach Till and Coach Ruge helped me fix my swing,” Kulaga said. “I found my groove. Unfortunately, we beat ourselves today and just didn’t play our game [against Montini].
“Overall, I think it was a great season. I know I learned a lot more about baseball and we have a good group of players joining the varsity next season. I give a lot of credit as well to our senior leaders, guys like Will [Kincanon] and Justin [Agne] for helping the younger players.”
Kincanon (9-3, 0.91 ERA), who will play college baseball at Middle Tennessee State next season, allowed just three hits, a walk and struck out seven against Montini.
For his career, Kincanon leaves RBHS with 320 plus strikeouts, 27 wins, an ERA under 1.20, five school records and justifiable recognition as the greatest pitcher ever at RBHS. He also can swing the bat a little, as evidenced by his 2014 stat line of .486 batting average, three home runs, 13 doubles and 29 RBIs. Kincanon also stole 16 bases, second only to Xander Catrambone’s team-high 18 steals.
“I pride myself on battling every game and trying to win at any cost,” Kincanon said. “It’s been great getting coached by Till and Ruge who have done everything they can to help me. We’ve had a lot of fun times and I’m going to miss it.”
RBHS finished the season with a 23-12 record including a12-6 mark in the Metro Suburban Conference. The Bulldogs’ 9-1 victory against highly-regarded Clemente in a regional championship meeting served as the season’s signature moment. A pitching gem by Kincanon, solo homer from Kulaga and brilliant pickoff call by Till powered RBHS past Clemente, which boasts a plethora of college baseball recruits.
“No disrespect to Montini, but Clemente is the best team we faced in the playoffs,” Till said. “I think we were like a 500-to-1 underdog against Clemente and we beat them, so perhaps we were living a bit on borrowed time.
“In terms of results and accomplishments, I think we overachieved this year. We had a good group of hard working kids and whenever you have a pitcher like Will Kincanon, you feel like you have a shot to win any game.”
The other key game aside from Clemente occurred in an 18-1 embarrassing home loss to rival Glenbard South in early May. After that debacle, the Bulldogs bounced back to beat the Raiders the next day to win the series and close out the season with 10 wins in 13 games.
“We were pretty steady all season,” Till said. “I think we had some tough games earlier in the season against Illiana Christian and Ridgewood. Our conference was solid this year, but I suppose we kind of had a turnaround against Glenbard South.”
While RBHS graduates several notable players in Kincanon, Agne, Catrambone and Jimmy Doherty, the bulk of the roster led by Kulaga, Connor Berek, Kevin Fitzgerald and Jake Surprenant returns next spring. Berek turned in a particularly impressive campaign with a 7-2 record on the mound, .370 batting average and some solid defensive work in the outfield.
Several players from last year’s 25-3 sophomore squad will also join varsity next season.