STERLING – When the Rock Falls baseball team is firing on all cylinders, it can be a difficult team to deal with.
Sterling found that out Saturday morning.
The Rockets bunched their hits together, got a strong outing from Jay Schueler on the mound, and played airtight defense in a 9-0 win against the Golden Warriors at Gartner Park.
Sterling rallied late in Game 2 to win 8-4 and earn a split in the nonconference doubleheader.
Game 1 was a no-doubter for Rock Falls.
“It was a good all-around performance,” Rock Falls coach Donnie Chappell said of Game 1. “Jay was really good. We made some nice plays on defense, and we swung the bats pretty well. Hopefully we can keep that going.”
Schueler (6-0) tossed the first six innings and left with an 8-0 lead. He struck out 12, walked just one, and baffled the Warriors with a sweeping curveball.
“I was just trying to mix it in there to keep them off-balance,” Schueler said. “I tried to change speeds the best I could.”
Sterling had runners reach third base in the first and fifth innings, but each time Schueler was able to get himself out of trouble with an inning-ending strikeout.
Rock Falls (15-2) rapped out nine hits against three Sterling pitchers, and eight of them were bunched in the second and fourth innings.
Jalen Bickett’s two-run single highlighted a four-run second inning. Noah Schueler and Grant Wasson also had RBI base hits.
Wasson drove in the first run of the fourth inning with a double, Austin Sandrock drew a bases-loaded walk, and Noah Schueler capped off the rally with a two-run single.
“I think when one person starts it out, we just keep it on a roll,” Wasson said. “We just keep moving through the order, and it’s a good thing.”
Cooper Willman (2-4) took the loss for Sterling. He allowed four runs, five hits and two walks, with five strikeouts in three innings.
Willman was relieved by Carter Lehman, who was also tagged for four runs in 1 2/3 innings.
Willman and Jacob Kessler had the lone hits, both singles, for Sterling.
“Obviously Schueler’s a good pitcher, but we talk about winning the little things,” Sterling coach Nick Pepper said. “There’s a lot of little things that we didn’t win. We’ve got to do a lot better job than that.”
The Golden Warriors (9-10) paid heed to their coach, putting up seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning of the second game to salvage the split.
Camden Bailey was 2-for-2 and drove in three runs to lead an eight-hit Sterling attack. Jeremy Hall tripled and drove in two runs, while Evan Tira scored twice.
Brayden Wolf tossed the first six innings and was the winning pitcher. He allowed four runs (three earned), eight hits and two walks while striking out two. Hall pitched a scoreless seventh.
Kody Velazquez took the loss for the Rockets. He allowed six runs (four earned), five hits and a walk. The starter, Noah Schueler, gave up two runs, three hits and six walks, with eight strikeouts, in four innings.
Wasson had two hits, including a double, drove in two runs, and scored twice to lead the offense. Chase Chappell scored twice.
Rock Falls 9, Sterling 0 & Sterling 8, Rock Falls 4
Star of Game 1: Jay Schueler, Rock Falls, 6 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 12 SO
Star of Game 2: Camden Bailey, Sterling, 2-for-2, 3 RBI
Up next: Rock Falls at Rockford Lutheran; Sterling at LaSalle-Peru, both 4:30 p.m. Monday