FULTON, Ill. — The Fulton Steamers split on the road against Riverdale just Tuesday, and both had the chance to take on the Rams again at home at Drives Park Friday. Despite close games on both diamonds, the Steamers split again.
For the Steamers’ baseball team, a slow start didn’t hinder their offense as they came back in the sixth and defeated Riverdale 9-6.
“We had a slow start, made a couple of base running errors and defensive errors,” Fulton coach Kyle Miller said. “I’m proud of how the guys battled back. We could have laid down but we found a way to win and we’ll keep ourselves in the conference race if we can do that.”
Fulton got on the board first in the bottom of the first inning. The Rams responded in the second. After getting one on base, a pair of big doubles scored two runs.
A bobble on an infield grounder put runners on first and second for the Rams, and Fulton coach Kyle Miller made a trip out to the mound to talk to pitcher Hunter Collachia. Collachia responded with a strikeout to end the inning.
In the second inning, the Steamers got two base runners, but one got caught off base and the other was left stranded.
Meanwhile, coach Kyle Miller said repeated “We’ve got to clock in, boys” to his team in the dugout. Miller rallied his team before the top of the third, still down 2-1.
“I just said to stay with it. We’re a good team and we were playing uncharacteristically for us,” Miller said. “They all responded. I have some good senior leaders that said we’re not losing this game.”
The Rams scored three more runs in the fourth, but then the Steamer offense came alive. Down 5-1, the Steamers led off by getting two on base, then scored one on a wild pitch.
Another big hit brought in two more runs, putting the Steamers within one. By the end of the fourth, Fulton had taken the 6-5 lead.
“We want to be patient at the plate. Their guy was cruising early, but we got the pitch counts up and we started leaving balls up,” Miller said. “We got some really big two out hits today.”
The Rams scored again in the top of the fifth. Then, with two outs and two base runners on, the Rams intentionally walked Erik North to load the bases. That lined everything up for Seth Sikkema to blast a triple into right-center and drive in three runs.
“Seth tweaked his hamstring a little bit and battled through for us,” Miller said. “Everyone involved, I’m just happy, this is a good win for us. We had guys step in and play well today and step up big time.”
Cody Sanderson finished everything up by holding the Rams off in the top of the seventh.
“Cody is kind of our stop guy,” Miller said. “He’s not a very intimidating presence but he keeps the ball down, pounds the zone, and he’s going to make you beat him. He throws a really heavy ball and people can’t square him up.”
The Steamers improve to 6-4 and 3-1 in the TRAC. They will play two games—one against Amboy and one against Elgin Academy—on Friday as part of the Muddy River Classic. That continues on Saturday.
On the softball field, the Steamers were hoping to bounce back from a 5-1 loss on Monday. They made a run for it, but ultimately fell 4-3 to an unbeaten Riverdale squad.
“That was a very hard fought game,” Fulton coach Jessie Rosenow said. “From our turnaround the other night, I was very impressed.
“Offensively we did a lot better than the night before. She [Riverdale pitcher] got us on the rise balls on Monday night and tonight we adapted. We just didn’t string the hits together in a timely fashion that we needed.”
One of the biggest issues Fulton saw was leaving runners stranded, especially in scoring position.
“I think we had eight or nine left on base,” Rosenow said. “It was just not being able to capitalize when we needed. I know we had bases loaded at one point and we just couldn’t push anything across. We’re going to come back tomorrow, we have a big weekend this weekend.”
Down 2-1 in the bottom of the third, Emily Banker drilled a two-run homer to put the Steamers ahead.
“She’s been a highlight all year,” Rosenow said. “She put work in in the offseason and it’s definitely showing. She was DH for us all year last year, so she hit all the time and that was her job. She came back and she’s just great. She’s one of our biggest offensive threats.”
However, the lead was short-lived.
The Rams responded with a solo homerun from Morgan Caves the very next inning to tie it all back up at 2-2. Thy would score two more before the end of their at-bat, sending the Steamers into the bottom of the fourth down 4-2.
The Steamers got one back in the fifth when Banker reached first and advanced to third on some savvy base running, then was brought home by a single from Emily Schipper.
Despite the two losses this week, Rosenow said she likes what she’s seeing from her team. Especially when it comes to attitude.
“In all honesty, I think we’re becoming closer as a family and that’s really going to take us farther into the postseason like we want,” Rosenow said. “Right now we’re green and still adjusting but I think near the end of the year when we mature just a little bit more we’re going to be pretty competitive.”
The Steamers fall to 4-4 overall and 1-3 in the TRAC. They’ll play in the Muddy River Classic this weekend at home.