ROCK FALLS – With his team closing in on a 10-run rule win, Rock Falls' Austin Donoho made the move of the game.
It wasn't something he did on the field; it was something he did for a teammate. With his team leading 10-2, Donoho voluntarily stepped aside for Dallas Jones, who was the last player left on the bench.
Jones took advantage of the opportunity, lacing a two-run single to center to drive in the last two runs in the Rockets' 12-2, five-inning Big Northern West win over Mendota on a cool, slightly rainy Thursday evening at Rock Falls.
The other three Rocket reserves had already pinch hit in the fifth inning. While Dustin Huycke was at the plate and Donoho on deck, Donoho yelled to head coach Donnie Chappell, who was coaching third base, asking if Chappell wanted Jones to bat for him.
"I try to let everyone else get in the lineup, get some at-bats and playing time," Donoho said. "Dallas is a great hitter. He stepped up and did his part. I'm really proud of him."
Jones was serving as the bullpen catcher for teammate Steven Armoska when his chance came about.
"Austin told me to come in and hit for him," Jones asid. "He told Coach to let me hit. He's a great teammate, and a good guy to play with."
Donoho and Jones have been friends since middle school.
"It means a lot that he took himself out for me to have a chance to win the game," Jones said. "It was awesome. It's the first time I've won a game, hitting-wise. It was cool to have the opportunity to do it."
Rock Falls senior Jace Anderson was the boys basketball King of the Hill in the state's 3-point shooting competition as a sophomore, besting all the entrants in every class.
He's quite kingly on the pitching hill as well, nearly throwing a no-hitter. He settled for a two-hitter, allowing only an infield hit in the fourth inning and a bloop single in the fiffth.
Anderson (5-0) piled up eight strikeouts and walked just two. Both runs against him were unearned.
Anderson had several Mendota batters bobbing and weaving in the batter's box due to his curveball. He even had one Trojan jump out the way of a pitch that broke over the plate for a called strike three.
"I guess that shows it's working," Anderson said. "I didn't change anything. Today was just one of those days that my curveball was working really well with the wind. I think it helped."
"That's a pitch he's struggled with," Chappell said of Anderson's curveball. "When he has that going, he's really good. He's tough to hit when he's throwing it for strikes, because he has a good changeup and fastball already. That's kind of his key."
Rock Falls (13-7, 6-2) took control with a six-run second inning. Donoho and Armoska had back-to-back RBI doubles in the inning, which also included an RBI single by Huycke, an RBI fielder's choice by Noah Junis and an RBI hit by pitch by Trace Hippen.
The Rockets made it 7-0 on Hippen's RBI single in the third.
Mendota (5-15, 2-6) scored its first run in the fourth. Rock Falls made it 10-1 with three runs in the bottom of the inning, as Donoho had another RBI double, with Jacob Mammosser and Eddie Nelson providing RBI singles.
The Trojans scored their only other run in the fifth before the Rockets finished things off.
Star of the game: Jace Anderson, Rock Falls, 2-hitter, 0 earned runs, 8 strikeouts
Key performers: Austin Donoho, Rock Falls, 2-3, 2 2B, 2 RBIs; Jacob Mammosser and Eddie Nelson, Rock Falls, 2 hits, 1 RBI apiece
Up next: Rock Falls at Byron, 4:30 p.m. today