SYCAMORE – Every time starting pitcher Brody Justice needed his defense, it came through.
The DeKalb County Liners turned two early double plays, catcher Anthony Foulk threw out two runners and DeKalb County totaled 18 hits on its way to a 12-5 victory against the DuPage County Hounds on Thursday at Sycamore Park.
“We’ve been playing pretty well on defense lately,” Liners manager Mike Siwiec said. “It’s probably one of our better ones. I don’t know if it’s our best one.
“I think our pitchers are throwing better No. 1. And the guys have been together for most of the year now.”
DuPage County (20-20) got a runner on base to start each of the first six innings, but it only came back to bite DeKalb County (26-15) once. The Hounds went up 1-0 in the top of the first when Charles Gould hit an RBI groundout to plate Mitch Elliot. But from there, Foulk threw out Gary Mayberry at second to end the inning and the threat.
DeKalb County took a 2-1 lead in the bottom half of the first. Jay Mueller hit a bases-loaded RBI single to give the Liners the lead, but DeKalb County couldn’t take further advantage. DuPage County’s Paul DeJong got on base to start the second, but was thrown out by Foulk.
“He’s got a good arm. That always helps,” Siwiec said of the Sycamore graduate. “It shuts down the running game. It makes them think twice about doing things.”
Erik Lockwood’s first home run of the season drove in three to give DeKalb County a 5-1 lead in the second inning. Joey Burney made it an 8-1 game with a two-run single in the third.
Gary Mayberry’s grand slam in the sixth cut DeKalb County’s lead to 8-5. Marcus Duckworth, who broke the DeKalb County franchise record for steals in a season with his 20th swipe during the first inning, made a diving catch in center to rob Mark Kornacker that ended the inning.
The Liners piled on in the seventh with four runs on six hits to put the game out of reach. The Liners batted around in the inning.
Justice threw seven innings, striking out three and allowing six hits.
“He didn’t have his best game, but he battled through,” Siwiec said.
DeKalb County’s final regular-season home game before next week’s Midwest Collegiate League playoffs is at 7 p.m. Saturday against the Northwest Indiana Oilmen. It is fan appreciation night.