Considering Burlington Central won by the 10-run rule Tuesday, the Rockets experienced an unusual amount of chills and thrills in their Class 3A Sycamore Regional semifinal.
Brooke Gaylord, Emily Kisch and Melanie Gajewski all homered in a seven-run third-inning explosion just after Gaylord escaped a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the top of the inning and the top-seeded Rockets went on to an 11-1 victory over host Sycamore.
Burlington Central earns a berth in Saturday’s championship game against Wednesday’s winner between Marengo and Genoa-Kingston.
“That’s the first time we’ve had that type of an inning, with all the bombs and stuff,” Gaylord said. “But we’ve had big innings where we did score a lot of runs — just not like that.”
Bekah Harnish had singled in a first-inning run, then did it again in the third for a 2-0 Central lead before the Rockets unleashed the long ball on losing pitcher Taylor Zak.
Gaylord hit a three-run bomb to left field. Kisch made it back-to-back shots with one to left-center. Then, after Lauren King walked and Becca Gerke popped out, Majewski slammed a two-run shot to right field for an 8-0 Rockets lead.
“Brooke, it’s routine for her,” Gajewski said about Gaylord’s seventh homer of the year. “It was my first one. I’m not really a home-run hitter, but I can hit with power. I knew it would be a good hitting day for me, that’s for sure.”
The wind blowing out helped the Rockets. Most likely it also helped not facing Sycamore’s ace pitcher, Abigail Foulk, after she had been spiked in her team’s Monday regional win over Hampshire.
The Rockets (28-3) went on to collect 11 hits, including two each for Majewski (three RBI), Harnish, Kisch and Kayla Ross. They ended the game by the mercy rule in the sixth on Kassi Gaylord’s pinch-hit RBI double.
Gaylord had faced a bases-loaded situation in the top of the third after a Rockets error, a walk and a Spartan single. With the score just 1-0 in the Rockets’ favor, she got Jasmyne Taylor and Paige Bjork to fly to second base and finally got Taylor Jones on a liner to right field to escape.
“Getting out of that inning was as huge as what we did right after that,” Rockets coach Wade Maisto said. “That’s what worried me about coming here. I wasn’t taking them lightly.”
Gaylord allowed just three hits, struck out four and walked three for the win.
“I was a little nervous but I had confidence in my teammates that (third) inning,” she said. “I knew we could get out of it. We’ve been in tough situations before and know how to make plays.”