Owen Murphy (perfectgame.org)

The Riverside-Brookfield High School baseball team knew it would have their work cut out this season, but the Bulldogs to date have been holding their own against some tough conference opponents, starting an abbreviated season due to t6he COVID-19 pandemic with a 5-3 record.

“We have only played eight games thus far, so the meat of our schedule is still in front of us,” said head coach Dallas Till. “I would say that the backbone of our team has been our pitching. We have pretty good depth and have seen a number of quality starts.”

A large part of the success on the mound has been junior Owen Murphy, who recorded 17 strikeouts in a complete game shutout against Wheaton Academy on April 26. The Bulldogs defeated the Warriors 9-0, with Murphy giving up just two hits and a walk. As of last week, Murphy was 3-1 on the season with a 0.656 ERA and 25 strikeouts.

“It was a completely dominating performance,” said Till of Murphy’s shutout of Wheaton Academy. “He was in command from the start and got stronger as the game progressed.”

Other contributions to the pitching staff have come from seniors Jeremy Fox (2.86 ERA, 22 strikeouts) and Ethan Taylor (3.50 ERA, three strikeouts), along with juniors Jack Niekrasz (4.06 ERA, seven strikeouts) and Jax Giampietro (2.54 ERA, 17 strikeouts).

In addition to his prowess on the mound, Murphy is also one of the Bulldogs’ top hitters. He leads the team with three home runs and is batting .278 with seven RBI. Senior third baseman/shortstop Henry Rausch has a team-high 13 hits and is batting .565 with seven RBI. 

Junior catcher/third baseman Brian Twomey (.318 average, seven RBI), senior outfielder Charlie Buh (.273 average, three hits, one RBI), junior outfielder Matt Novak (.280 average, three RBI), junior first baseman Nic Novak (.263 average, three RBI), sophomore second baseman Rex Dockedorf (.333 average, two RBI) have also been contributing to a solid Bulldog offense.

In addition to win over Wheaton Academy, the Bulldogs have had key wins against conference opponents such as Wheaton St. Francis (7-5 on April 14) and Ridgewood (10-5 on April 19). 

RBHS also was victorious the second time over Wheaton Academy, beating them 6-2 on April 27 and tallied their fifth win on the season with a 10-0 shutout at Brooks College Prep on May 8. Till knows that if his team can keep consistent, the Bulldogs can get hot at the right time heading into the state tournament.

“We have a few conference games remaining and a couple of strong non-conference opponents,” he said. “The key to finishing strong will be staying injury-free and getting better each day. We want to be playing our best baseball when the state tournament starts.”