RB's late game rally fizzles

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By CHRIS PUMMER

The late surge mounted by the Riverside-Brookfield baseball team finally fizzled in the first round of the Boys' Class AA postseason.

The Bulldogs managed only five scattered hits off Nazareth Academy's Kyle Smolek. Meanwhile RB pitcher Joe Kirke struggled with his control, walking four and hitting another batter, as the Roadrunners ran away with a 5-1 win.

Mike Marotta, Nick Ely, Russ Kessman, Jason Blatter and Adam Rycz all had hits, but none of those hits came in secession. The Bulldogs also watched as Smolek retired nine in a row at one point.

"Their pitcher really kept us off balance," RB coach Dan Monahan said. "He didn't throw real hard, but he kept us out in front. That's been one of our Achilles' heels all year. We don't stay back when the ball is slow."

The Bulldogs took the game's first lead in the third inning. With Matt Sandrik on third and Ken Razionale on first, Monahan called for a double steal with two outs.

Razionale would be caught in a rundown between first and second base, but when Nazareth Academy's dropped the ball during the pickle, Sandrik raced in from third to give RB a 1-0 lead before Razionale was tagged out.

Kirke continued to cruise into the fourth inning before finding trouble. The Roadrunners (16-18) batted around in that frame with the help of three walks and a hit batter, scoring three runs to take a 3-1 lead. Kirke would leave the game after issuing his fourth walk in the fifth inning.

All five runs were charged to Kirke, who also yielded five hits and struck out three in 4 1/3 innings of work. Only four of the runs were earned.

Despite the loss, the Bulldogs can still hang their hat on their tremendous second-half run that included a Suburban Prairie (East) Conference title. They also came close to their goal of 20 wins, despite a 6-13 start.

LT cruises through regional

While other top teams seemed to drop like flies at regionals, the top-seeded Lyons Township team continued to cruise.

The Lions (33-3) easily dispatched Proviso East for the second time this season, this time 18-2 in May 25th's playoff opener. LT then cruised to a regional title Saturday with a 12-4 win against regional host Leyden.

Other top seeds in the Reavis Sectional were not as fortunate.

After knocking off Riverside-Brookfield in the first round, sixth-seeded Nazareth Academy rallied for a pair of runs and a 2-1 win on Saturday to stun No. 2 seed Hinsdale Central (23-10) and take home a regional title.

The Roadrunners' pitching duo of Smolek and Ian Lisak gave up only one run apiece in winning two regional games, and the offense plated the runs Nazareth needed.

Hinsdale South was also an upset victim when ninth-seeded St. Joseph (13-33) dealt the regional-hosting Hornets a 4-3 loss in Saturday's title game.

Fourth-seeded Reavis (21-14) survived by beating No. 12 seed St. Laurence 3-0 on Saturday behind a shutout tossed by hurler Jim Kernats.

It's Reavis that LT will play today (Wednesday, 4:30 p.m.) in the first sectional semifinal. St. Joseph and Nazareth Academy play at the same time Thursday, and the winners from those games will square off for the sectional title Saturday at 1 p.m.

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