Junior Cooper Marrs and his Riverside-Brookfield baseball teammates began Metro Suburban Conference Blue action this season by losing their first two games to Wheaton Academy.
The Bulldogs nearly came all the way back to win the championship on May 9.
They took the early lead and were on their way to their 13th straight victory, but St. Francis rallied for the 10-2 victory in Wheaton in the winner-take-all finale.
“For the first four innings, I thought we played really well and then the wheels sort of came off for the first time in a while,” said Marrs, the Bulldogs’ starting pitcher. “That’s only going to serve as experience that’ll help us further down the road in even higher-pressure games.”
The Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead in the first on Jake Tyler’s two-run single but then stranded five runners over the second and third innings.
St. Francis pulled ahead with a five-run third that included a run-scoring double, three run-scoring singles and a run-scoring error. They added four runs in the fourth.
Ryan Novak, who had two of the Bulldogs’ six hits, and Wes Deason doubled.
“We came out ready to play. We had a chance to kind of do some damage. They kind of flipped the script on us and ran away with it,” RBHS coach Mark Ori said.
The Bulldogs had forced a first-place tie by winning 4-0 the previous day behind a combined two-hit shutout by winning pitcher Wyatt Murphy (5 strikeouts in 6 innings) and Novak. RBHS and Wheaton Academy tied for second with the Warriors getting the tiebreaker based on their season sweep.
“We played great the day before [against St. Francis], all aspects, and we came out with that same kind of fire and we weren’t able to limit the damage in the one inning,” Ori said. “We wanted to win conference but it’s [state] playoffs that really matters.”
The Bulldogs bounced back by beating Timothy Christian 12-3 on May 11 and Plainfield Central 8-5 on May 13.
Marrs had a huge game against Plainfield, going 5 for 5 with a first-pitch three-run homer in the ninth inning. Deason had two RBIs and Marrs and Joey Garvey scored twice. Carter Duda (4 innings) won in relief of starter Robert Drake.
“I put in a lot of work in the offseason hitting and pitching,” Marrs said. “It’s nice to see all of that paying off for us right now.”
Against Timothy Christian, RBHS pulled away with an eight-run sixth to pad a 4-3 lead. Jacob Cruz was 3 for 4 with a double. Tyler and Jaden Deppe, who each had two hits, and Deason (3 RBIs) also doubled. Winning pitcher Kevin Cronin worked 4.1 innings.
The Bulldogs are the No. 6 seed in the IHSA Class 4A Mt. Carmel Sectional and open St. Rita Regional play against No. 12 Morton at 4:30 p.m. on May 25. The regional final is at 11 a.m. on May 27 against No. 3 St. Rita or No. 14 Curie with the winner advancing to the sectional semifinal at 4:30 p.m. on June 1.