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Baseball: Rock Falls poised to advance after pool-play victory

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – Cayden Roberts did a little bit of everything in Rock Falls’ 8-4 victory over the host Auburn team Monday night in the Junior League Central Regional Tournament.

Not only did Roberts set the tone with four strong innings on the mound to begin the game, he also had a key two-run single in the third inning that increased Rock Falls’ lead to three. 

To cap off the night, Roberts returned to the mound to notch the final two outs of the victory. 

“My arm was feeling great, I felt like it was going to be on the whole game,” Roberts said. “[Coach Ronnie Pillars] said I may have to come in and finish the game if we needed it to and I did.”

Roberts only threw 35 pitches through four innings with just a few more in the seventh. Pillars was told following the win that Roberts will need just the one required day of rest because of his low pitch count.

“Cayden had a great game today,” Pillars said. “We tried Matt Anderson in the seventh at pitcher and he hadn’t pitched all year. He got us a big out then we went with Cayden to finish the game.”

The victory improved Rock Falls to 2-1 in pool play with today’s game against Duluth, Minn., remaining. 

The squad is in prime position to advance into the championship round beginning Wednesday. Two teams (Kentucky and Indiana) are undefeated at 3-0, with four teams sitting at 2-1.

Six teams advance to the championship rounds on Wednesday and Thursday, with the top two teams receiving a first-round bye.  

Rock Falls opened the scoring Monday in the second inning when Anderson plated a run on an error. The lead grew one inning later with Roberts’ two-run single followed by an RBI single by Tyler Meyers. 

A sacrifice bunt by Anderson in the fifth scored another run before the team added three more in the sixth, with RBIs coming from Quinton Matznick, Roberts and Anderson. 

“We practiced before the game and hit a little bit and it helped,” Pillars said. “Our hitting finally came around a little bit and we were able to steal some bases and move on the base paths as well.”

Because of the pitching performances out of Roberts, Alex Cantu and Anderson, arguably Rock Falls’ top two pitchers have been preserved for today’s game in Logan Pillars and Matznick, giving the team an advantage heading into a huge matchup with North Dakota.

“We have our top two pitchers ready with Cayden needing just a day’s rest, so we are in pretty good position,” Coach Pillars said. 

First pitch in today’s final pool play game is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

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