DIXON – Rock Falls got its offense going early, Payton Yanes struck out 10 in a two-hitter, and the Rockets won their third game in as many days Saturday afternoon, defeating the Dixon Duchesses 10-0 in 6 innings at Reynolds Field.
Karli Fischbach set the tone for Rock Falls (3-0, 3-0 Big Northern) with an inside-the-park home run in the top of the second to give the Rockets a 2-0 lead, smashing a drive deep into right field and motoring around the bases to beat the throw home.
“I thought it would be pretty far. I don’t know if it was all the way to the fence, but I knew it was going to drop in over her head,” said Fischbach, who added that she’d been waiting for that hit after struggling at the plate the first two games of the season. “Before I rounded second, when I saw Coach [Kris] Smith at third telling me to go, I knew I could score. I’m not the fastest runner on the team, but I knew I just had to pick up the pace and get home. It was essential for us to get the bats going, and I knew that would get us started.”
Bailee Reynolds heard that call for offense, and made it 4-0 Rock Falls an inning later with a two-run double just inside the right-field foul line. The senior catcher then added an RBI groundout in the fifth, and an RBI single up the middle in the sixth.
“We hadn’t faced a pitcher that throws that hard yet, and it was nice to see some faster pitching and see how we handled it,” Reynolds said. “When Payton’s hitting her spots and we’re hitting the ball hard, we have a good feeling about things all game long.”
Yanes was indeed hitting her spots, as she threw 50 of her 64 pitches for strikes, and kept the Duchesses (0-1, 0-1) off-balance with a mix locations and speeds.
“Early in the game in the dugout, Bailee said ‘Do you realize we’re throwing the same pitches in the same pattern every time? We’re going inside, outside, and high,’” Yanes said.
“The screwball was working really good today, and so was the curve,” Yanes added. “And I depend on my curve a lot, and the first game was a little shaky, so I was a little nervous. So I spent a lot of time warming it up today, and it was perfect today, so I used it a lot.”
Yanes had four 1-2-3 innings, and had five innings where she threw three balls or fewer; she threw all eight of her pitches in the third inning for strikes. She faced just two batters over the minimum and didn’t allow a walk; she only had a three-ball count once the entire game.
“I love it when Payton gets going like that,” Reynolds said. “It’s quick and easy, and I couldn’t have asked for any better pitches today.”
Dixon hung with the Rockets for the first four innings, thanks to Elle Jarrett pitching through some hits, walks and errors to limit the damage. But after she pitched around a leadoff hit by pitch for a scoreless top of the fourth, things unraveled in the fifth.
The Duchesses committed four errors in the inning, leading to three unearned runs; the Rockets scored five unearned runs on the day thanks to eight Dxion errors. The only two hits in that inning were bunt singles, but the 4-0 deficit became a 7-0 hole despite the ball leaving the infield just once.
“I let the mistakes get to me, especially my own throwing errors,” Jarrett said. “I just got too frustrated with it.
“But I was very happy with how we played, and we just need to clean some things up and I think we’re going to be fine.”
Jarrett pitched 5+ innings, allowing eight runs – three earned – and five hits, with five strikeouts, three walks and a hit batsman. Sam Tourtillott came on after a walk to start the sixth, and she allowed two earned runs and three hits, striking out one without a walk.
Tourtillott also had a two-out single in the first, and Kelsey Brechon had a two-out bloop single in the fifth and stole second base on a pickoff attempt by Reynolds, but they were the only two Dixon baserunners.
“It’s encouraging that we played a good team pretty close the first game of the season,” Dixon coach Candi Rogers said. “But we can’t let the mistakes get in our head; we’ve got to stay up and fight through them and keep going. If we play defense, then we’ve got to get our bats to follow, but that’s something I think we’re going to be able to do. We’ll be just fine when we put things together.”
Rock Falls 10, Dixon 0, 6 inn.
Star of the game: Bailee Reynolds, RF, 2-for-3, 2B, 4 RBIs
Key performers: Payton Yanes, RF, 2-hit shutout, 10 Ks, 0 BBs, 3 runs scored; Karli Fischbach, RF, inside-the-park HR; Elle Jarrett, Dixon, 5+ IP, 8 R, 3 ER, 5 H, 5 Ks, 3 BBs, 1 HBP
Up next: Mendota at Rock Falls & Byron at Dixon, both 4:30 p.m. Monday