SYCAMORE – Midway through the season, Jason Cavanaugh knew the Sycamore baseball team’s offense couldn’t possibly stay as poor as it was. Entering the year, Cavanaugh envisioned an explosive offense, and when he saw his team practice, he knew that potential was still there.
Those woes are becoming a distant memory after the Spartans’ 10-0 win, in six innings over Rockford East on Thursday in the Class 3A Sycamore Sectional semifinal, which advanced the Spartans to their first sectional title game since 2004.
“Something had to give,” Cavanaugh said. “When you watch us take batting practice and watch what all of our guys are able to do, it couldn’t translate to the game. Now, you’re seeing it translate to the game. It makes baseball a lot more fun.”
Sycamore’s pitching carried the team throughout the regular season, but the offense has caught up.
The Spartans have scored 35 runs in three playoff games, all of which have ended early with the 10-run rule.
Mitchell Jordan is one of several Spartans to break out of a slump during the postseason, and he said confidence during that frustrating spell was huge.
“There’s always another at-bat in baseball,” Jordan said. “It’s frustrating, but as long as long as you’ve got one part of your game working, like your defense, if that’s working, then the offense will come.”
The Spartans (25-11) started early on Sunday, with Nate Haacker, Brett Weaver, Mitchell Jordan and Scott Nelson all driving in runs in the first inning to give Sycamore a 5-0 lead. The Spartans drove the E-Rabs’ (17-9) starting pitcher out of the game after recording just one out.
Nelson was dominant on the mound, as he’s been all season, pitching six shutout innings and allowing just one hit through the first four innings.
“Scott was Scott on the mound,” Cavanaugh said. “What a compliment that you go out and pitch like yourself. It’s just another shutout for him. Then we backed it up with the bats.”
Alex Keller added another run in the fourth when he drove in Nelson. Jordan, Nelson, and John Beaudoin had RBIs to make the score 9-0 in the fifth before Weaver ended the game by driving in Keller in the sixth.
“Early in the season, we weren’t scoring very much, and that’s tight on the pitcher because you know you have to hold them,” Nelson said. “Our hitting is really giving our pitchers some relaxing moments out there on the mound.”
The Spartans can win their first sectional title in program history with a victory over Wheaton St. Francis on Saturday, but Jordan was looking a little further ahead. He’s seen Kaneland and DeKalb play in the state championship game during his high school career, and he thinks the Spartans can do the same.
“It’s big for the program,” Jordan said. “We’ve been working hard and have come close, with Kaneland winning two years ago, and the year before that, DeKalb was in the final game. We know we can get there.”