Marotta returns to help lift RB

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The RB baseball team is looking to outrun a slow start. The Bulldogs are 8-13 going into this week, and despite a 4-2 conference record, could fall out of the Suburban Prairie Conference East pennant picture with any more tallies in the loss column.

"We just got off to a rocky start and haven t been able to recover yet," RB coach Dan Monahan said. "We just seem to play a good game, then a bad one. There s a lot of talent on this team, but we just haven t been able to find ourselves and string some wins together."

But the Bulldogs still have reason for optimism now that No. 1 starter Mike Marotta is back on the mound. After a shoulder injury during the football season kept him from taking the hill early in the season, Monahan eased Marotta back into his pitching role with four innings two weekends ago against St. Charles North.

Marotta was on the mound Thursday to earn the victory in a 10-7 RB win in the rubber match of a three-game set with Fenton. Also one of the team's most consistent hitters this year, Marotta helped his own cause with a 3-for-4 performance that included a pair of doubles, a home run and six RBIs.

"He got hit a little, but he was pretty consistent," Monahan said. "He had good control, and it all starts from there. He would have been our No. 1 guy this year, and not having him on the hill is one of the things that's gone against us this year. It really is a trickle-down effect, so hopefully having him back gives us a lift."

RB pitcher Joe Kerke tossed a 2-hitter at Fenton on April 19 to open the series with a 1-0 Bulldogs win. A Mark Gorman sacrifice bunt in the seventh inning moved Bulldog runners to second and third before Johnny Saucedo hit a lined shot that Fenton's second baseman couldn't handle. That scored the winning run.

The Bulldogs lost the second game 5-2, so now with two losses in conference, they'll have to come from behind to catch Ridgewood (3-0) and Elmwood Park (3-0) in the SPC East. RB has played three more games, and will get a chance to see Ridgewood in its last conference series of the season.

The Bulldogs begin their three-game series against Elmwood Park at home Thursday, followed by a doubleheader at Elmwood Park on Saturday.

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