It is now guaranteed that one Beacon-News area baseball team will advance to the super-sectional round in the Class 3A playoffs this year.
Marmion Academy will play Kaneland in the Rochelle Sectional championship at 10 a.m. Saturday morning, and hey, somebody's gonna win and advance to next Monday's Rock Island Super-Sectional.
The Cadets punched their ticket to the sectional final with a 2-1 win over host Rochelle on Thursday afternoon. I was a little surprised this game was so close. The Hubs entered with an unimpressive 10-19 record, so I figured Marmion (21-8) would just roll over them.
Rochelle had runners on the corners with two outs in the top of the seventh inning before Cadets' ace Tim Tarter struck out Rochelle's Eric Duthie to escape the jam and secure the victory.
Tarter, the UIC-bound left-hander, tossed a complete-game four-hitter to improve his record to 10-0.
Marmion will use its No. 2 starter, Tyler Friel, in Saturday's matchup with Kaneland. Friel may not be unbeaten, but he's no slouch -- having limited opposing batters to a .150 batting average this season.
The Knights will throw their ace, Bobby Thorson. It will be interesting to see how Thorson responds, because he had to pitch the seventh inning in Kaneland's 7-4 win over Marian Central on Wednesday. He only threw 18 pitches to earn the save, but you never know.
Marmion catcher Kyle Kozak (pictured) delivered the go-ahead single in Thursday's win, and he had some interesting words when Jim Owczarski asked him about facing Thorson on Saturday.
"We'll be fine. We'll hit him," Kozak said. "The Daily Herald loves him. I think he's a little bit overrated. We'll come out and we'll hit him. We'll hit him."
I love it. Nothing like a little trash talk to get the juices flowing before a big game. We'll see who gets the last laugh between these two quality local teams on Saturday.