DEMOTTE — It didn’t take long for John Glenn to make its presence known in the Class 3A Kankakee Valley Sectional Championship game against Hanover Central. The Falcons rode a strong offensive start — four runs in the first inning — to a 12-2 win in five innings for their second straight title.
It was a different game from last year’s sectional championship, when Glenn battled the Wildcats for nine innings to scrape out a 2-1 win. Glenn coach John Nadolny said the first-inning cushion made all the difference on Monday.
“We just jumped on them,” he said. “Our kids up and down the lineup, people have been contributing. We’ve just been getting big clutch hits, getting on. It takes pressure off you. Scoring early was the big difference.”
The Falcons’ full roster of contributors was evident on the stat sheet, where the production was spread among multiple payers.
Glenn’s Mason Ryans got things going quickly, notching a single on the first pitch of the game. Michael Machnic then reached on an infield error and Billy Harness reached on an RBI single, followed by a 2-RBI triple by Jack Vukovits. The last run of the inning came on another RBI single, this one by Lucas Marshman.
Hanover coach Ryan Bridges said mistakes in the field and the early deficit proved too tough to overcome.
“Defensively we made seven errors in the game and it’s a different ballgame (from last year),” he said. “We dug our own whole. I’m not saying (Glenn starting pitcher Robbie Berger) didn’t do a good job because he did. He kept us off balance but we talked about that — he throws strikes and we need to cash in on our opportunities.”
Berger was indeed a major contributor in the game. The junior hurler notched his 10th win of the season against just one loss, giving up two runs on six hits through five innings. He did not walk a batter — which has become commonplace this season. Nadolny said Berger has given up one walk all year, while striking out 83.
“You have to hit him to beat him,” Nadolny said. “He’s not going to give you any extra runners. He’s 10-1 for a reason. He’s been our star ace for three years and he’s only a junior.”
Hanover heads home after a 21-win season. The Wildcats lost seven games and Bridges said most of those were lopsided.
“Each of those losses have looked like this,” he said. “When we lose, we lose big. Our guys have to be ready to go every single game.”