RANTOUL — The Rantoul Eagles baseball team lasted as long as it could against a highly ranked Normal West Wildcats team last Tuesday on senior day.
The Wildcats got the better of the Eagles in the end to win 2-0.
Both teams were held scoreless all the way up until the eighth inning when the Wildcats offense came through.
Normal West’s Brandon Roth advanced to second after third baseman Nolan Riddle committed an error. The next batter, Evan Hutson, singled to left, and Roth beat the throw home to score.
The play allowed Hutson to advance to second. Hutson scored after another infield error committed by Riddle on CJ Lewis’ grounder to third. The Wildcats won the game 2-0.
Scoring opportunity in seventh for Eagles
The Eagles (16-14) did have an opportunity to win the game in the seventh.
Adam Crites walked to lead off the inning. Will Wake made a sacrifice bunt to advance Crites to second with one out. But The next two batters, Norlyn Stewart and Jake Lykins, struck out swinging to end the seventh.
“Those two ground balls are not the outcome of the game,” Rantoul head coach Jon Donovan said. “In the bottom of the seventh with one out, we had a runner in scoring position. We could have won it there.”
Donovan said in mistakes happen in baseball and his players have to be able to move on afterwards.
“If a mistake weighs us down then it’s like a brick,” Donovan said. “The longer you carry the brick then the heavier it gets. We just say ‘flush it’ and move on. That’s the term we use.”
Normal West starting pitcher Sean Shook pitched five innings and limited the Eagles to just four hits, two walks and struck out four. CJ Lewis relieved for Shook, pitching three innings. He allowed no hits, one walk and struck out four.
Both Roseman and Cargo went 1 for 3, each with a single. Lykins and Chad Vermillion also contributed a single each.
Roseman starts on the mound for Eagles
Roseman started on the mound for the Eagles and pitched four innings. He allowed one hit, no runs, three walks and had four strikeouts. Crites relieved for Roseman and pitched the last four innings. Crites allowed four hits, two runs (zero earned) and struck out three.
“We could have pushed him [Roseman] another inning, but we have Adam,” Donovan said. “He was pitching well. Again, we had an opportunity to win today.”
Donovan pleased with team’s performance
Donovan was content with the Eagles have been playing recently, given that they played against Normal West (27-6), a team ranked in the top ten of the state.
“I’m just very happy with the way senior day in general turned out because we played against high-level competition and took them into extra innings,” Donovan said. “Obviously, we didn’t get the win.”
Donovan said the Eagles are playing better than they did in the beginning of the season because of their confidence level.
“You ask any of the guys on this team, and they will say the same thing,” Donovan said. “We feel like that we are going to win every time when we come out. We’re just going to continue to improve and focus on minor adjustments in practice. The guys are where they need to be.”
Donovan was thankful for the support from families of the players who came out to support the team.
“When you look at the stands today it was tremendous,” Donovan said. “That is the kind of community support that is not only for the baseball program, but for Rantoul athletics in general. You go to any senior day event throughout the year, you have that community support and family involvement.”
Contact Ben Theobald at firstname.lastname@example.org