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Sycamore baseball puts up crooked numbers in NI Big 12 East win

ROCHELLE – The Sycamore baseball team has been hitting the ball well all season long, and that didn’t stop in the first of a three-game series with Rochelle.

Seven Spartans recorded hits and all nine batters reached base at least once in Sycamore’s 13-2 six-inning victory over the Hubs in a Northern Illinois Big 12 East showdown. Cooper Vinz led Sycamore at plate by going 4 for 4 with a double, three RBIs and three runs scored.

Sycamore coach Jason Cavanaugh said that his team’s tactic of hitting to the opposite field was key in the win.

“Offensively, we had a good approach. It wasn’t about the home runs we were hitting, it about the good approach hitting the ball to right field,” Cavanaugh said. “And, that sets the table for the guys, so that when one does go out of the ballpark, it is not a solo shot.”

The Spartans’ (13-3, 5-2 NI Big 12 East) big inning came in the top of the third after already leading 2-0. Mark Skelley led off the inning with a double, and after Michael Swanberg sacrificed Skelley to third, Nate Haacker’s home run to left field gave Sycamore a four-run lead.

Three batters later, Alec Kozak hit a two-run home run, which plated Vinz.

Two more came in to score in the inning and the Spartans had broken the game open.

“On a day like today in a small ballpark like this with the wind blowing out as hard as it is, every inning is a threat to be a big inning,” Cavanaugh said. “I think that was the case today. We were able to put a crooked number up there four times.”

Spartan hurler Cole Nelson pitched well throughout most of the game. The senior struck out 12 Hub batters in the shortened game. Twice, Nelson worked out of a major jams, including when he walked two batters to load the bases with one out in the bottom of the third. Nelson got back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.

“I am extremely pleased with the way things turned out during the jams I was in,” Nelson said. “I had the bases loaded twice and two runners on two or three times, and I am glad I got out of there with only two runs against me.

“But overall, I did a good job making them hit my pitches. My defense was helping me out. Overall, it was just a good win.”

The middle of the Spartan lineup had big days. Outside of Vinz’s 4 for 4 performance, Haacker also had three hits and four runs scored to go along with that two-run homer.

“Those guys have hit all year,” Cavanaugh said. “Those two (Vinz and Haacker) and Skelley hit all of the time. That is kind of what you have to have to be a good baseball team. You expect your [top and middle of the order] to hit.”

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