FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The emotional rollercoaster that Rock Falls found itself on over the weekend ended on a high note with one emphatic swing of the bat by Quinton Matznick on Sunday afternoon.
Matznick connected for a grand slam to conclude an 11-1 victory in five innings over De Soto, Mo., as Rock Falls went 1-1 over the first 2 days of pool play in the Junior League Central Regional.
Rock Falls fell to Fargo, N.D. 9-4 on Saturday, putting the team in a sour mood after the first day. But Matznick’s heroics, with a pair of home runs on Sunday while driving in seven runs overall, helped turn around the team’s outlook with a pair of pool play contests remaining.
He also hit a two-run home run in the first to open the scoring for Rock Falls.
“The kids were down in the dumps last night … every aspect of the [first] game, we didn’t play very well in,” coach Ronnie Pillars said. “This [second game] wasn’t our best game either, but we fought through it and did what we needed to do to pull it out.”
The game was still close at 3-1 in the fourth inning before Rock Falls broke it open with four runs with two outs.
After the first two in the inning were retired, the next two Rock Falls batters reached base before Matznick doubled in a run. That was followed by three straight singles by Cayden Roberts, Matt Anderson and Bronson Mintun that stretched the lead to 7-1.
The offensive explosion was big, especially after Rock Falls escaped a two-on, no-out situation in the top of the fourth without giving up a run.
“We were all hitting the ball, and our defense wasn’t bad either,” Matznick said. “Our pitching was pretty good, too.”
Mintun started the game on the mound, but was relieved in the third by Zac McKinzie, pitching in his first game for the All-Stars.
“He is 13 years old and is playing well for us,” Pillars said about McKinzie. “He keeps his head going. He hasn’t pitched all year for us, so his innings were big.”
While the victory Sunday was good, the level of play displayed by Rock Falls was even more impressive. After multiple mistakes cost the team a day earlier, all aspects of the team’s game were solid against Missouri.
Pillars hopes that will lead to a more relaxed attitude as the team prepares to play the host Auburn, Indiana All-Stars on Monday at 5 p.m.
“The kids will relax a little more and get that first [loss] out of their way, and now move on,” Pillars said.
After his huge day, Matznick agreed.
“We definitely got our confidence back up,” Matznick said. “We will be ready to roll [Monday].”
After playing host Indiana today, Rock Falls will conclude pool play on Tuesday against Minnesota. The top six teams advance to the championship rounds on Wednesday and Thursday, with the top two teams receiving a first-round bye.