Klemm strong in relief but late rally falls short; Belvidere North to face Huntley for regional title
DeKALB – Michael Clayton drew a walk to bring in a run off Belvidere North reliever Michael Paddock, and the DeKalb rally from five down early seemed to be on.
But with the bases still loaded for the Barbs, Paddock struck out James Keck and induced Trey Roach into a double play, ending the sixth-inning rally in a 5-1 DeKalb loss to the Blue Thunder in a Class 4A DeKalb Regional semifinal.
“We were hoping to come away with two runs that inning, at least,” DeKalb coach Jeff Davis said. “That’s a backbreaker. Trey hit a ball solid, just right at them. They had him played well, which means they did their homework, and sometimes it just doesn’t go your way. And when they turned it on Trey, who’s a pretty fast kid, you know it’s not going to be your day.”
Charlie Gannon started the sixth with a double, then went to third on a single by Jason Klemm – who had come in to pitch in the second. Tucker Ikens walked, chasing starter Jackson Kirane.
Paddock came in and walked Clayton to make the score 5-1, but Roach hit a hard grounder back up the middle, where shortstop Brock Ashens was waiting, stepped on the bag to force out Clayton, and retired Roach to end the threat.
“We started getting a little worried with that, but he got the ground ball, and our defense made the play,” Belvidere North coach John Paddock said. “It was the difference in the game. A base hit there scores another two. It’s a whole different ballgame.”
Belvidere North (19-10-1) got to DeKalb starter Jarrett Sykes early for two unearned runs in the first. With the bases loaded in the second and a 5-0 Blue Thunder lead, Klemm came in to pitch for the Barbs (8-21) and escaped the jam.
DeKalb had three hits in the first two innings, but each runner was erased either caught stealing or on a pickoff.
“Things didn’t go our way, and that set the tone for the rest of the game,” Davis said. “The first two innings were rough on us; we ran ourselves out of a couple innings where we could have scored. And maybe it’s a different outcome. But we never got there today.”
Davis said Sykes had been pitching strong of late, giving him the start over Klemm.
“Klemm pitched awesome,” Davis said. “We don’t have a crystal ball, and you can’t see into the future, but Jarrett has been throwing very well, and that’s why we gave him the start. Klemm came into the year as the ace, but we didn’t feel like he was throwing the best at this time. He came out and threw extremely well. And he had a base hit.”
The loss ends the season for the Barbs, in their first season under Davis.
“Our pitching has to get better, and our defense has to get better,” Davis said. “We committed quite a few errors. I don’t want to say how many; it’s embarrassing. We’re all aware of that. But our pitching does [need to improve] as well. We walked like 118 and struck out 140. Those numbers have to be better. You can’t walk that many people in 30 baseball games and expect to win.”
By the numbers: Klemm didn’t allow a run in 3 2/3 innings, holding Belvidere North to one hit, striking out three and walking one. Sykes had two of the seven hits for DeKalb and the only multihit game for the Barbs.
Beyond the stats: The Blue Thunder didn’t throw their ace, Ashens, saving him for the title game.
They said it: “We still have our No. 1 pitcher, who hasn’t thrown yet,” Paddock said. “We’re ready to go.”
Up next: Ashens and the Blue Thunder face Huntley for the title Saturday.