Jordan homers twice as Spartans claim regional title
ROCHELLE – Mitchell Jordan heard the loud thump as his fifth-inning home run ball hit the left-center field scoreboard at Rochelle High School.
The long homer essentially broke open the Class 3A Rochelle Regional final for the top-seeded Spartans against No. 2 Rock Falls, but the Sycamore senior wasn't done. He hit his second two-run shot of the game in the sixth, giving Sycamore a walk-off 12-2, six-inning victory. It's the Spartans' first regional title since 2010.
Sycamore (24-11) and Rock Falls (20-9) were deadlocked at one heading into the fifth, but Sycamore got four runs, capped off by the Jordan homer.
"I heard it (hit the scoreboard) and that's when I kind of lost it with excitement," Jordan said. "Just happy to put some runs on the board with my team. For the first couple innings we were kind of slow with the bats, but we needed a moment like that to get us going."
The Spartans would add seven more in the sixth, with Jordan ending the game with another long ball to left. He finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs. A couple of weeks ago, Jordan was moved down to sixth in the order. It wasn't a matter of Sycamore coach Jason Cavanaugh punishing the senior, but rather getting him into a spot where he'd see better pitches to hit.
"I'm seeing more fastballs, and you don't really have as much pressure being the three hitter," Jordan said. "Got more guys on base to knock in, and I'm kind of letting it go now."
All season, offense has been somewhat inconsistent for Sycamore. In the two regional wins, it's been the opposite, as the Spartans, who will play Rockford East in the semifinals of the Sycamore Sectional Thursday at 4 p.m., scored 25 runs.
"Whatever it is, we need to keep it going, I don't know if I can put my finger on exactly what it is," Cavanaugh said. "Offense swung the bats really well today. We had some great situational hitting. ... All of that stuff, and then Mitch showed up. Mitch played great today."
Cole Nelson earned the win for Sycamore, throwing all six innings. He gave up a run in the second on a Clay Velazquez RBI single and allowed another in the sixth, but for the most part was solid, striking out six.
"He's always a shutout pitcher," Scholz said. "Always doing his job on the mound. So it relieves some pressure for us."
Nelson didn't lose much as the game went on, which has been a theme for the Spartans' ace all year. He gave up just three hits in his final four innins of work.
"That's the way he always pitches," Cavanaugh said. "Seems to always struggle a little bit out of the gate, but he just gets better as the game goes on."