On May 27, Owen Murphy, Sean McDermott and the rest of the seniors on the Riverside-Brookfield High School baseball team graduated from high school. But their work for RBHS was not done.
Just about 15 hours after being handed their diplomas in the RBHS gymnasium, Murphy and McDermott led the Bulldogs to their first baseball IHSA regional championship since 2014 as Murphy tossed a one-hit shutout to defeat host Whitney Young 3-0.
The regional championship was a big team goal after coming so close last year, losing 2-1 to Benet in the regional championship game.
“It feels amazing,” McDermott said. “Last year was a bummer against Benet and finally we were able to battle it back and get a title under our belt. It really feels good.”
The Bulldogs (30-5) grabbed the lead in the first inning. Murphy lashed a double to the left center field fence with one out. Then Young shortstop Luke Yolich ranged far to his left to rob Cooper Marrs of a hit for the second out as Murphy advanced to third.
That brought cleanup hitter McDermott to the plate with two outs. McDermott is not your prototypical cleanup hitter preferring contact over power. McDermott was looking for a fastball, and he got one on the first pitch from Young pitcher Joshua Schmidt. He pounced on it and muscled it into center field for a single to drive in Murphy.
“I really wanted to get a fastball right in the zone and as soon as I saw it, I took it and drove it where it came from,” McDermott said.
The Bulldogs scored two more runs in the second inning.
Rex Dockendorf led off the second with a single. Then Jake Tyler was hit by a pitch. Slugging catcher Brian Twomey surprised the Dolphins with a bunt and beat it out for a hit to load the bases.
Connor Chapulis was hit by a pitch to drive in Dockendorf. Then Luke Yachin drove in Tyler when he laced what looked like to a sharp line drive single to center. The Young centerfielder alertly turned it into a fielder’s choice by throwing to third for a force out but the run still scored.
Three runs were more than enough with Murphy, who has only allowed two runs (and just one earned run) all season, on the mound.
“Having Owen on the mound is everything,” McDermott said. “When we play, when we know Owen’s on the mound all we need is one, two runs and we feel comfortable.”
Young (18-15) threatened in the first when, with one out, Alex Wilen reached on a two-base error. After an intentional walk to Young slugger Brendan Summerhill, Murphy reared back for two strikeouts to snuff out the threat.
Murphy (8-0) cruised the rest of the way, allowing only two more baserunners and recording his first 10 outs on strikeouts. In the fourth inning Murphy make a throwing error on a two-out tapper in front of the plate to allow a runner to reach second.
Young’s other baserunner came with one out in the seventh when Yolich broke up the no-hitter with a solid single to right off a curve ball. But Murphy wasn’t fazed. He got a pop out to short and then fanned the next hitter on a fastball to end the game. Murphy struck out 14 for the game.
“My fastball was working pretty well,” Murphy said. “I was feeling my cutter and my changeup pretty well too, my breaking ball left me sometimes but I got it back and everything just felt good.”
The Bulldogs, who are seeded third in the IHSA Reavis Sectional, will face second seeded Mount Carmel in a sectional semifinal on June 2 at 4:30 p.m. at Reavis.
RBHS coach Dallas Till said Saturday that he is not yet sure if Owen Murphy will start that game.
“He could go if he wants to, but I’m going to kind of let him soak this in and see how he feels, how sore he is, that type of thing,” Till said.