Posted Online: May 13, 2011, 10:13 pm

Bottom of order puts BHC baseball team on top

Comment on this story

By Tom Johnston,

The Black Hawk baseball team was tough up and down the order in Friday's opening-day action of the NJCAA Region IV Sectionals at the BHC Diamond.

In victories over McHenry County (12-0 in 5 innings) and Moraine Valley (12-4 in 7 innings) in scheduled 9-inning games, the bottom of the order was particularly tough.

In the opener over McHenry County, Mitch VanNatta, Logan Frye and Nick Sanders in the 7-8-9 spots in the batting order were a combined 5-for-9 with each driving in two runs. Frye scored twice and VanNatta once. Frye even put the capper on the onslaught with a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning. In the nightcap, those three were 6-for-11 with six runs scored. Sanders knocked in three runs.

"That's what I think is a big bonus for us, that 1 through 9 can get the job done,'' said Trevor Kenyon, who in the middle of the order was a combined 5-for-8 with five RBIs and two runs. "We all know how to play; in high school, a lot of us played in those big, tough games.''

Which partly explains how the 43-7 Braves – ranked No. 1 in the region – were so business-like in their opening two games. It also puts them in today's title game vs. No. 8 McHenry County (23-21) at noon in the double-elimination gathering. McHenry also topped No. 12 Moraine Valley (11-26) by a 12-2 count. All three of the first-day games, scheduled for nine innings, were shortened by the mercy rule in one form or the other.

"We're in the driver's seat at 2-0,'' said BHC coach Arnie Chavera. "Now we just have to play a waiting game with the weather.''

In this three-team gathering, it appears as if the weather might be the Braves' toughest opponent with rain in the forecast for the next three days. A sectional champion must be determined by Tuesday at midnight. If the games don't get played, the top-seeded Braves will advance to regional play next week at McHenry County.

On Friday, BHC pounded out 28 hits in the twinbill. Kenyon and Sanders led the way with five each. Alex Slaby (4-for-5 in the nightcap) and J Golden each had four hits. Mitch VanNatta and Frye had three hits in the twinbill. Braves hitters took a patient approach at the plate, working pitchers and rarely getting cheated as five triples indicated.

"The bats showed up and the guys hit the ball well,'' said Chavera. "We ran the bases well and played a little bit of small-ball. We were able to convert that into a couple of big innings and that's what we do well.''

If the rest of the regional does get played, it's a safe bet that the Braves' offense – which has scored 300 runs and outscored foes over 3-to-1 – will make it tough on MCC.

So can BHC pitchers. In the opener, Chris Burgess fired an efficient 66-pitch three-hitter in which he fanned five and walked just one.

"It's really easy to go out there knowing we had a lead,'' said Burgess, who moved his record to 6-3. "The defense played great behind me. ... It's a luxury knowing I have that good cushion.''

BHC didn't have that in the nightcap when Moraine Valley scored off starter Jason Smith (6-3) in each of the first two innings. But the Braves took care of that with a five-run second and 11 runs in the first four frames. In the second, third and fourth innings, Sanders, in the No. 9 spot, had hits and runs scored and drove in three runs.

In typical BHC fashion.

NJCAA Region IV Sectional
(At Black Hawk College)
Friday's games
Game 1: McHenry County 12, Moraine Valley 2 (5 inn.)
Game 2: Black Hawk 12, McHenry County 0 (5 inn.)
Game 3: Black Hawk 12, Moraine Valley 4 (7 inn.)
Today's schedule
Game 4: Black Hawk (43-7) vs. McHenry County (23-21), noon.
Game 5: Repeat of Game 4, if needed, 3 p.m.

Black Hawk 12, McHenry County 0 (5)
McHenry Cty 000 00—0 3 4
Black Hawk 025 5x—12 10 0
WP: Chris Burgess (6-3). LP: Jeremy Ahillen. Two or more hits – MC: Bryan Grabowski 2; BHC: Trevor Kenyon 2, Logan Frye 2, Nick Sanders 2. 2B – MC: Grabowski; BHC: Mitch VanNatta. 3B – BHC: Frye, Kenyon. HR – BHC: Frye. Two or more RBIs – BHC: Kenyon 2, Kendall Hocker 2, Mitch VanNatta 2, Frye 2, Sanders 2.

Black Hawk 12, Moraine Valley 4 (7)
Moraine Valley 110 002 0—4 9 2
Black Hawk 152 301 1—12 18 0
WP: Jason Smith (6-3). LP: Dan Townsend. Two or more hit – MV: Jeromy Williamson 2, John McDoniel 2; BHC: Alex Slaby 4, J Golden 3, Trevor Kenyon 3, Nick Sanders 3, Mitch VanNatta 2. 2B – MV: Rigg, Williamson, McDoniel; BHC: Sanders. 3B – BHC: Slaby, Kenyon, Golden. Two or more RBIs – MV: McDoniel 2; BHC: Kenyon 3, Sanders 3, Slaby 2, Mark VanNatta 2.
Records: Moraine Valley finishes at 11-26.