Author: Joey Yelenick

Blue Caps Dominate Ground Sloths, Stay On Top Of KCL 

NORMAL, IL – The Blue Caps looked to take down the red-hot Ground Sloths on Wednesday night, entering tonight’s games with a one-game lead on the Merchants in the Kernels Collegiate League standings. From the first pitch, the Caps ensured they would keep that number one spot, dominating the Ground Sloths on their way to a 12-2 victory. 

Jack Helms of Lakeland Community College got the start for the Caps, he started working early with a one-two-three inning, coaxing a couple of ground outs to end the inning. 

The Blue Caps got two outs on their first two pitches in the bottom of the first before John Shuey lined one out to center on his first pitch. Caleb Royer followed that up by drilling a ball down the first base line, that hit the bag and popped up into the fence into the right field patio. Shuey rounded all bases on the play, scoring to give the Blue Caps a 1-0 lead. 

In the second, Carter Selk led off for the Sloths and launched a homer into right field to tie the game at one. 

Blue Cap bats stayed hot though, as they singled thrice in the second to retake the lead by a score of 3-1.

Jackson McDonald entered for the Blue Caps in the third, and he struck two out in his first inning of work, a one-two-three outing. 

Braden Vanderheydt, the Ground Sloths starting pitcher, made a great play to prevent a run in the third, making a barehand grab on a well-hit ground play and flipping it to third to get the leading runner out. 

3-1 remained the score until the bottom of the fourth, the frame where the Caps did their most damage. They scored four runs on two doubles, two singles, and two walks in the frame, taking a massive 7-1 lead. 

Shea Zbrozek got one back for the Sloths in the fifth, driving in Blake Crancer to make it a five-run game. 

The Caps’ offense kept pushing though, as Riley Hendren and John Shuey each doubled as they pushed the lead to eight. They tacked on two more in the sixth to walk it off, as a triple from Braden Elliot gave the Blue Caps a decisive victory in run-rule fashion. The Blue Caps now have a one-and-a-half-game lead in the KCL standings, with just three gamedays remaining. 

Bobcats Beat Merchants in Home Run Derby

NORMAL, IL – The Bobcats took down the Merchants in Wednesday’s nightcap, a game that was converted to a home run derby due to isolated thunderstorms in Normal. Each team was to send out three players to take ten swings to decide the winner of the contest. 

The Merchants were first up to the plate, sending out Danville Area Community College infielder Kody Morton, who did not homer in his ten attempts. 

Rock Valley catcher Nick Mardis went out for the Bobcats, and after failing to hit a homer in his first seven swings, he hit a pair of back-to-back bombs on his eighth and ninth pitches, giving them a two-to-nothing lead after round one. 

Chenoa native Nate Reed followed for the Merchants, and he pulled one to right field on his sixth swing to put his team on the board.

Bobcats utilityman Kaileb Hackman equaled Reed’s total of one, also on his sixth swing. Hackman, who attends Augustana, had two swings reach the wall as well but put his Bobcats up by two with one round to go. 

It all came down to the Merchants’ Daniel Bastidas, who failed to homer, as the Bobcats secured a big victory to move into second place. 

Hitter of the Day: Riley Hendren, Blue Caps, Center Fielder, Augustana

Hendren went 3-4 at the plate with a double, driving in three runs and scoring twice in a 12-2 win over the Ground Sloths. 

Pitcher of the Day: Jackson McDonald, Blue Caps, St. Charles CC

McDonald relieved Helms and struck out three in 2.2 innings of work, only allowing one hit in a dominant victory.

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