Baseball: Herscher downs Gordon Tech to advance to state semifinalHerscher's Jordan Ruckman throws all 7 innings against Gordon Tech. | Patrick Gleason ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 28, 2012 8:18PM
Herscher’s supersectional hex is history and so is Gordon Tech’s best season ever.
Northern Illinois-bound senior Jordan Ruckman pitched a complete-game with 13 strikeouts and Logan Orr drove in four runs as Herscher rallied to beat Gordon Tech 9-3 at Monday’s Class 2A Benedictine University Supersectional.
The victory advanced the Tigers (33-7) to the state semifinals for the first time since they won the Class A state title in 1999. Since then, they had gone 0-5 in supersectional games, the last four of which were at Benedictine, including upset losses the past two years. Herscher will face Rock Island Alleman at 3 p.m. Friday at O’Brien Field in Peoria.
“We talked about those four games that we had lost up here and those games mean nothing,” Ruckman said. “Everyone says there is a curse, but you’ve just got to get the job done, and I had faith.”
That faith never wavered even when Gordon Tech (22-18), which was making its first supersectional appearance, scored three runs in the top of the first. Sammy Colon drew a lead-off walk and then Adam Vignola, Julian Russell, Allen Osinski and Justin Garvy all singled, with Garvy’s hit plating two runs to make it 3-0.
“First inning I think I was just leaving the ball over the zone,” said Ruckman, who responded by striking out the side. “My curve didn’t start working until late in the game so I was throwing mostly fastballs.
“I was confident the team would come back. We got two runs in the first and we were down 3-2 and then second inning I calmed down.”
Ruckman was hit on his pitching elbow by a curveball from Rams starter Noe Arteaga leading off the bottom of the first and later scored on a balk. Orr drove in the second run with a bases-loaded walk.
Ironically, Ruckman said he actually felt better after getting hit. The southpaw allowed only three hits and three walks the rest of the way.
“The kid pitched a great game,” Gordon Tech coach Chris Haas said. “We came out good and I think his velocity got real good after the second inning and he just dealt. He definitely got stronger. You have to tip your hat to him.”
Ruckman tipped his cap to his teammates, including centerfielder Orr, who put the Tigers ahead to stay with a two-run single to left before later scoring on a passed ball as Herscher seized a 5-3 lead in the third.
“I was just trying to go with the pitch and get a good hit,” said Orr, who added a sacrifice fly during a two-run sixth. “We were kind of shaky in the first inning, me especially. I missed a couple balls [defensively] that I shouldn’t have missed, but we kept going and it was good to see us work hard through it. Jordan did a fantastic job pitching.”
Dalton Sproul went 3-for-4 with two runs and two stolen bases for Herscher, while Matt Webber, Kyle Burton and Spike Engelman all had two hits.
Russell’s two hits led Gordon Tech, which had the tying run at the plate with one out in the fifth trailing 6-3 before Ruckman got the next two hitters to fly out to Orr. The Rams had won just two regional titles before this year but advanced within one game of winning only their third state trophy in any sport.
“The last few years we’ve kind of gone higher and higher,” Haas said. “We had a regional championship a couple years ago and I think the bar has been raised every year by our seniors. We’ve got a bunch of good kids coming up so I’m expecting us to keep moving in [the right] direction.”