Baseball: Richmond-Burton blanks St. Edward for regional titleSt. Edward's Luke Duffy throws a pitch against Richmond-Burton on Saturday in the championship game of the Class 2A Richmond-Burton Regional in Richmond. | Karen Naess ~ For Sun-Times Media
St. Edward got a first-hand look at why Richmond-Burton is regarded as one of the top teams in the Class 2A state playoffs Saturday.
The third-seeded Green Wave was no match for the top-seeded Rockets and their No. 2 pitcher Ryne Blanton as the host team cruised to an 8-0 victory in the championship game of the Richmond-Burton Regional.
Blanton (8-3) struck out 13, walked none and scattered four hits while tossing a complete-game shutout as Richmond-Burton (25-9) won a regional title for the second straight year. The Rockets, who advanced all the way to a sectional championship game at the Class 3A level last season, move on to play Morrison on Wednesday in the semifinals of the Morrison Sectional.
“We really want to go far this year,” Blanton said. “We’ve really worked hard to get where we are today, but we definitely want to go farther.”
St. Edward (19-17) went with experience over statistics on the mound as senior Luke Duffy got the start over freshman lefty Jake Lafrenz, who came into the game with a 1.86 ERA.
The Rockets tallied an unearned run off Duffy in the bottom of the first before blowing things open with seven runs in the second. Six of those runs were charged to Duffy (3-6), who only lasted 2/3 of the inning and allowed a two-run triple to E.J. Trapino during the rally.
Lafrenz came on in relief and served up a three-run home run to the first batter he faced as Blanton sent a towering, wind-aided shot over the fence in left. Lafrenz settled down after that and held Richmond-Burton scoreless over the final four innings while striking out two and walking none.
“(Duffy) has that fire, that intensity and that self confidence,” St. Edward coach Tim Dovichi said. “I don’t regret (starting Duffy). I’ll think about it, but I won’t regret it.
“When you go to the championship you want to go with your best, and Luke was our best option.”
Evan Giacomo (2-for-4, RBI), Ray Wojciechowski (2-for-3) and Trapino (two runs) paced the offense for the Rockets.
Duffy and Lafrenz both had a double for St. Edward, which never had a runner advance beyond second base.
“There’s really no excuse,” Duffy said. “We definitely had the talent but we just didn’t produce.”
The defeat marked the end of a productive season for a young St. Edward team that more than tripled its win total from last year despite having three sophomores and two freshmen in its regular lineup.
“We’ve got to take this and move forward,” Dovichi said. “We’ve tasted what it feels like. Once you taste it you want it again next year.”