JOLIET – The Dixon baseball team took a two-run lead, but a pair of big innings sank the Dukes in a 9-2 loss to Waterloo in the Class 3A third-place game Saturday at Route 66 Stadium.
Leading 2-0 heading into the top of the fourth, the Dukes allowed four runs in the fourth and four more in the fifth.
“We kind of unraveled a little bit,” Dixon coach Jason Burgess said. “A lot of it started on the defensive side and then hitting, we’d hit a little bit then we wouldn’t. But it really starts with the pitching and defense. We’d make a mistake, and those mistakes just compounded.”
Waterloo got on the board in the fourth on Graham Baker’s single up the middle to drive in Tommy Carr. Tyson Roedl followed with a two-run double, and Ty Kueper drove in a run on a sacrifice fly.
In the fifth inning, Waterloo scored four runs without getting the ball out of the infield. A pair or runs came home on ground balls, Trey Kueper scored from third on a balk, and Nate Albrecht scored on a wild pitch.
The Bulldogs (23-13) were 1-for-7 their first time through the lineup, but got six hits the rest of the game and took advantage of three Dixon errors.
“One of the things we’ve done well this year offensively is we see a lot of pitches, we draw walks, and we get hit by pitches,” Waterloo coach Mark Vogel said. “I was a little concerned after the first time through because we were leaving baserunners on. We did that all day [Friday]. When Graham Baker got that hit to get us on the board, I think from there on out, we did a really good job at the plate.”
Dixon starter Andrew Long (5-1) needed 83 pitches to get through four innings and face one batter in the fifth. He walked two and hit three others, throwing a first-pitch ball to 10 of the 21 hitters he faced.
“It just looked like we were laboring all day, trying to throw strikes and get comfortable in a rhythm,” Burgess said. “We talked midway through that second or third inning about trying to work quicker. It seemed like we were a bit slower than normal. It just didn’t feel like he could find his rhythm.”
On the mound for the Bulldogs, Dustin Crawford needed just 70 pitches to throw a complete game, getting through three different innings on six pitches. Other than a 20-pitch third, he never threw more than 12 pitches.
“It was exciting. I just knew I had to stay within myself,” he said. “Just staying in the strike zone, getting outs.”
Crawford (12-2) struck out three, catching Kyle Crawford looking in the second, and setting down Joseph Heckert swinging in the fifth and Dentrell McGlown swinging in the seventh.
“He was mixing in his curveball, keeping his rhythm up, going fast, hitting his spots,” Kyle Crawford said.
Dixon (26-6) broke through with a two-run third, capped by an RBI single from Tucker Cole to drive in Isaic Sanchez.
“I was just sitting there seeing fastball. If I saw a curveball, I was going to swing at it,” Cole said. “I saw a floating changeup and I took a cut at it and put it up the middle and did my job, tried to help my team out.”
Waterloo stranded Dixon runners in the first and fourth innings, working around a one-out single by Sanchez in the first with a comebacker to the mound and a foul popout to right, and getting around a leadoff bunt single by Payton Lawrence in the fourth with a grounder to second, a popout to first and a flyout to center.
Dixon also put a man on in the sixth when Cole led off with a single, but Waterloo turned a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
3A third-place game
Waterloo 9, Dixon 2
Star of the game: Dustin Crawford, Waterloo, 7 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 H, 3 SO, 0 BB, 54 strikes, 16 balls
Key performers: Tucker Cole, Dixon, 2-for-3, RBI; Isaic Sanchez, Dixon, 2-for-3, R, SB; Tyson Roedl, Waterloo, 2 RBIs