BIG ROCK – Midway through the first inning, Hiawatha baseball coach Sean Donnelly turned to an assistant coach and said that even in his worst nightmare, Wednesday’s game didn’t go this bad against Somonauk.
Donnelly then turned to his scorekeeper and asked how many errors the Hawks had in the inning. The reply was that he wouldn’t even want to know.
Somonauk’s first 10 batters reached base and scored en route to the Bobcats defeating the Hawks, 13-3, in five innings in Wednesday’s Class 1A Hinckley-Big Rock Regional final at Kenny Field. Top-seeded Somonauk (25-4) will face the winner of today’s H-BR-Indian Creek semifinal for the title at 11 a.m. Saturday at Kenny Field.
“It was bad,” Donnelly said. “Fly balls in the outfield we’re not catching, catcher getting the ball back to the pitcher we couldn’t do, things that these kids have been doing since they were 7 years old and all of a sudden now we’re struggling doing it.”
For the Hiawatha players, it felt even worse.
“We’re a lot better ballclub than that,” freshman first baseman/pitcher Will Corn said. “We should never start a game off like that. I think it was just pregame jitters.”
Corn started the first inning at first base, but replaced starter Mike Mercado after the Bobcats batted around without an out. Somonauk had only three hits in the first, while the Hawks committed four errors, threw two wild pitches and hit three batters.
After Corn hit John Wathen to force in a run, he settled in and didn’t allow a run until the fifth, when Danny Heerhold’s two-RBI single ended the game via the mercy rule.
Corn felt his outing was one of the best of the season for him. He had five strikeouts and one walk.
“I thought Will did an excellent job,” Donnelly said. “He’s really come a long way through the year from where he was. It was hard to teach him that he doesn’t need to strike everyone out. He can take something off his fastball. He can throw his curve.”
The Hawks (10-18), who got a two-RBI double from Corn in the first, had the bases loaded with two outs in the fourth but couldn’t find a way to get back in the game against Somonauk starter Jake Krischel. Krischel, who walked three and struck out two, got Donald Giebel to bounce into a fielder’s choice to end the threat in the fourth.
“It was tough, and like I just told the guys, I’m really proud of the way they hung in there,” Donnelly said. “It would have been easy for them to say, after giving up 10 runs and no outs, ‘Oh, jeez, Somonauk’s going to put up 38 on us.’ And they didn’t. They fought back. We were a hit or two away from getting a couple more runs in, and it just didn’t pan out.”