SYCAMORE – Any DeKalb Liner fan who left Saturday’s game against Will County at Sycamore Park early may regret it.
At the end of the third inning, the Liners were trailing by seven and seemingly on the verge of being shut out. They chipped away, adding three in the fourth inning before going silent until the eighth, where they tied it at eight. After an extra innings pitcher’s duel, DeKalb’s Joey Burney hit a walk-off two-run double in the 12th inning to snatch the game from the CrackerJacks, 10-9.
“This team is real loose,” Liners coach Mike Siwiec said. “They know how to play. All you got to do is tick away and we can build momentum.”
Will County’s Andrew Johnson put the CrackerJacks up by a run in the top of 12th, putting them at nine while the Liners sat at eight. Matt Risdon took a walk at the hands of Will County’s Dalton Potts to start the bottom of the 12th. This was followed by a Markus Duckworth single, while a sacrifice bunt by Brian Estevez to put them both in scoring position. After Christian Vandetti took an intentional walk, Burney came in and hit a ball deep to right to seal the game.
Burney had reached base twice, once on a walk and once after he got hit by a pitch. Other than that, up until his walk-off double, he had gone 0 for 3.
“I just wanted to put the ball into play, that’s all that really mattered there,” Burney said. “Like they teach us in school, ‘Don’t focus on what happened last time. If you got out last time … this next at bat you got it.’”
Brody Justice started the game for the Liners and struggled early. He gave up seven hits and seven runs while walking five through three innings. Siwiec brought in John Gault to begin the fourth, and left him until the ninth.
Gault said he hadn’t pitched that many innings in over two years.
“Really, being a pitcher, my job is to throw strikes and let my defense play and that’s what I did,” Gault said. “Having these guys behind me really helped me out. I know they got my back.”
Siwiec said Gault’s school in Mississippi wanted to work him into being a starting pitcher, so the plan was to allow Gault to stretch himself a bit. Gault got five strikeouts in the game and only one run crossed the plate under his watch.
“John Gault kept us in it,” Siwiec said. “He’s got a pretty good arm; he throws strikes and he keeps hitters off-balance now with his slider.”
The Liners meet the CrackerJacks again on Monday night at Sycamore Park at 7:05 p.m.