ELGIN – Alex Buchanan’s complete game featured five perfect innings, albeit not consecutively, en route to the Kaneland baseball team’s second consecutive IHSA 3A Regional championship as the Knights beat the Burlington Central Rockets, 3-2.
Buchanan’s fastball stymied the Rockets’ first 12 batters of the game, and even after Buchanan issued his first walk of the day to start the fifth inning to end a bid for a perfect game.
Buchanan said he was aware that he was carrying a perfect game into the fifth.
“I don’t try to, but in the back of my head I always know how I am doing on the day,” Buchanan said. “I’m kind of glad that it didn’t get to the point where I had one going into the seventh, because I feel like that might have been too much pressure.”
Kaneland’s (27-9) offense got to Central starter Zach Zuiker for three runs in the game’s first two innings. However, Zuiker was able to settle in and keep the Knights off the board for the next two innings, before being lifted in favor of Danny Kinney after he walked and hit the first two batters of the fifth inning. After walking the first batter he faced, Kinney shut the door on a golden opportunity for the Knights to pad their lead, getting two infield flies and a pop out to neutralize the threat.
“Oh my gosh, we are going to be talking about that for the next few days,” Kaneland coach Brian Aversa said. “Our defense played well, and the offense was hot early. Three runs for Alex Buchanan is a ton of runs, and he held true through the end. I would have liked a few more runs, though.”
By the numbers: Buchanan’s gem was a complete game two-hitter. He walked only two batters. Kinney was just as effective in relief for the Rockets, retiring six Knights in a row in two innings while walking only one.
Beyond the stats: The game was moved to Judson University’s Hoffer Field, which is a turf infield with a natural grass outfield. It also didn’t start until 5 p.m., which led to unusual shadows as the game wore on.
Up next: The Knights move onto the Class 3A Sycamore Sectional, where they will play the Dixon Dukes at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.