STILLMAN VALLEY, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — The Byron Tigers are one win away from reaching the Class 2A State Tournament in baseball. They wrapped up the Stillman Valley Sectional Championship Saturday by defeating Big Northern rival Rockford Christian 11-3.
The Tigers were able to earn the win despite not having ace pitcher Braden Smith on the mound, because Smith pitched Thursday in the Tigers’ semifinal win. Instead junior Braylon Kilduff started on the hill. He had some control issues in the first inning walking the first two Rockford Christian batters, and eventually issuing a bases loaded walk to force in a run, but Kilduff settled in after that. He shutout the Royal Lions from the second inning through the sixth inning.
Meanwhile, the Tigers took advantage of control issues by Rockford Christian starting pitcher Devan Bruggeman. In the top of the first inning he hit two batters with pitches, and he walked two batters opening the door for Byron’s first run.
The Tigers scored three more runs in the top of the second. Freshman second baseman Caden Considine had a bases loaded single that drove in two runs. In the top of the third inning the Tigers put six more runs on the board. Again Considine delivered a hit with the bases loaded to drive in two more runs. Considine had three hits and four RBIs in all in the game.
Nolan Brass followed Considine to the dish in the third inning. He hit a fly ball to straightaway center that was right at the centerfielder, but the ball was dropped allowing two more runs to score giving Byron a 10-1 lead.
Rockford Christian mounted a threat in the top of the seventh inning scoring two runs and forcing Kilduff off the mound. He was replaced by Ryan Tucker. Tucker got the job done closing out the game and the 11-3 win.
The Tigers advance to the 2A Rockford Super-Sectional at Rivets Stadium Monday at 1 p.m. against DePaul College Prep. The Rams defeated Timothy Christian Saturday for a Super-Sectional Championship. Their record is 22-14 playing in the strong Chicago Catholic League White Division.
With Byron one step away from state what is coach Dale Hartman’s message for his Tigers?
“Just stay in the moment. Stay focused. I’ve asked them to give two things all season, and that’s one give 100 percent and two expect to win every game we play. We’ll be the underdog on Monday, no question about it, but we’re going to expect to win that ballgame.”
NOTE: Byron ace Braden Smith won’t be available to pitch in the Super-Sectional on Monday because he threw 115 pitches in Byron’s game Thursday. According to IHSA rules he needs to have four days off before he can pitch again.
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