Hall 2A regional championship: Hall 10, Riverdale 0
SPRING VALLEY — The Hall Red Devils poured it on the Riverdale Rams in defense of their regional title Saturday morning before the pouring rain suspended the game until Monday afternoon.
The Red Devils raced out to a 9-0 lead Saturday, capped by Jimmy DeAngelo’s two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning just before the floodgates opened up on Kirby Park.
On Monday, the Red Devils finished off what they started, using James Mautino’s sac fly to extend their lead to 10-0. Trez Rybarczyk set the side down in order, the last two by strikeouts to invoke the 10-run rule and lift the Red Devils to their third straight regional championship.
“I’m very happy for our guys. The seniors continue to lead, and in some way we are getting contributions up and down the line,” Hall coach Tom Keegan said.
The Red Devils (23-6) return to Byron for sectional play, meeting Erie-Prophestown at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the first of two semifinals contests. The TRAC East rivals spit their conference games with Hall, winning the first 12-2 while the Panthers claimed the second 6-5.
E-P beat Winnebago 1-0 for the regional championship Saturday at Winnebago.
After a scoreless top of the first by Riverdale and a nice play by Riverdale shortstop Jacob Griffin to retire Devil leadoff man DeAngelo Saturday, it looked like it might be a good old-fashioned pitchers’ duel. But the next three Hall batters scored, the big blow being a two-run homer off the bat of Rybarczyk, and the Devils never took their feet off the gas.
“Trez got us going, and we didn’t look back as we scored in three of the four innings,” Keegan said.
It was Rybarczyk’s second home run in the regionals in as many games.
The top five batters in the Red Devil lineup were virtually unstoppable, reaching base safely 11 of their 13 plate appearances on Saturday as they built up a 9-0 lead.
Third baseman Payton Plym was as busy as anyone with a first-inning RBI single, a third-inning RBI single, four fielding assists on ground balls and a stolen base.
DeAngelo was actually the only batter from the top five spots that Riverdale hurler Kale Verltuizen was able to retire (a first-inning groundout and a third-inning pop-out) in their first two trips to the plate.
But DeAngelo was not going to be left out of the fun. In the fourth inning, as the thunder roared in the distance and the skies were rapidly darkening, he greeted reliever Jacob Griffin with a long home run just to the right of center, plating Cole Wozniak, who had tripled ahead of him, putting Hall up 9-0.
With it being possibly his last plate appearance at his home park, DeAngelo wanted to go out with a bang.
“My approach was to seek a first-pitch fastball, and that’s what I got, so I was trying to drive a ball in the gap or over the fence,” he said. “But when I hit it, I thought it was routine pop-up. Then I saw the ball keep carrying and I knew it had a chance ’cause’ wind was blowing out.”
Senior Chance Resetich followed the home run with a single, and Rybarczyk was nipped by an inside pitch putting runners on first and second. But then the rain began to fall and fall rapidly, and the game was suspended.
When play resumed Monday, the first pitch by Riverdale starter Kale Vanhuizen to Mautino was a wild pitch, moving the runners up a base. Rams ace, Noah Tackett was summoned to pitch and Mautino promptly lifted a sac fly to left field to bring home Resetich with the 10th run of the game.
Hall pitcher Alec Bulak was stellar in his four innings of work Saturday, striking out four and allowing only one hit and one walk. Keegan said he was very efficient.
“Alec really performed well in a big situation,” Keegan said. “They squared up one ball. Other than that, it was a lot of rollovers to the left side that Payton and Chance handled.”
• Notes: Byron and Alleman, which beat St. Bede 5-3 for the regional championship at Kewanee, meet in Wednesday’s nightcap at Byron. ... Hall played in the Byron Sectional in 2017, falling to Warren 4-3 in the championship game after defeating Winnebago 11-7 in the semifinals.
• BCR Sports Editor Kevin Hieronymus contributed to this story.