BASEBALL: Kankakee’s season ends in no-hit fashion at Ottawa
OTTAWA — To say Ottawa pitcher Jared Herzog had Kankakee’s number Monday might be an understatement.
Herzog no-hit the Kays in Monday’s IHSA Class 3A Coal City Regional quarterfinal, and the Pirates’ bats came to life in the form of a 14-0 Ottawa victory in five innings.
As if Herzog’s no-no wasn’t enough, the senior hurler added 13 strikeouts in the abbreviated game.
“[Herzog] established his fastball and threw his curveball for strikes,” Kankakee coach Brian Manering said. “We didn’t make very good adjustments either because he struck out almost every batter he faced.
“We couldn’t hit the ball for anything tonight, but we’ve got to tip our hats to Ottawa. They pitched lights out and hit the ball extremely well. They were the better team today.”
The Kays ended their season with an 11-13 record.
The Pirates put up five runs in the first inning to jump out to the early lead. Jace Addis and John Bruner both hit RBI singles for the Pirates in a first inning that saw Ottawa also score three more runs on two wild pitches and one error.
A wild pitch and error scored two more runs for the Pirates in the second inning to stretch the lead to 7-0.
Peter Walsh hit an RBI double in the third inning for Ottawa. Herzog singled to score a run later on in the innings before Wyatt Hill and Bruner would add sacrifice flies to make the score 11-0.
The Pirates would add three more runs in the fourth to make the game’s final score.
“Moving forward, we’re going to be alright — our pitcher, catcher and third basemen today were only freshman,” Manering said. “Add in a sophomore shortstop, right fielder and designated hitter.”
Even with a youthful squad, Manering said he thought the Kays would have put up more of a fight, despite facing one of the toughest hurlers they had seen all season.
“I didn’t expect the game to go this way, I’m not going to lie,” Manering said. “I was expecting a 5-3 or 6-4 game, but Ottawa came out and punched us in the mouth, and we just couldn’t recover.”
Despite the loss, Manering’s optimism moving forward is warranted after seeing his team improve from 6-20 one season ago to finishing 11-13 this year, all while playing so many young players.
One of those young promising players Manering mentioned already is playing at a high level. Camden Kearney, who just finished his freshman season, finished the year with a .533 average and piled up 40 hits, 17 RBIs and also earned three wins on the mound.
Manering said he is excited for the future, and he also is thankful for his seniors’ contributions to the program the past four years.
“I’ve been here for three years now, and most of those seniors have been playing at least that long,” Manering said. “They mean everything to the program. We’re really going to miss those kids.”
For senior Chase LaRoche, Monday was one last opportunity to play baseball before having to head off to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., next month.
“He’s an awesome young man, and I’ve loved coaching him,” Manering said. “He’s gonna go on to do great things, and we’re all really proud of him.”