BROOKFIELD – Expectations were high at the beginning of the season for Riverside Brookfield.
They weren’t quite this high though.
The Bulldogs finished off the Metro Suburban Conference title with a sweep of Elmwood Park to finish 16-2 in the league. RB finished 30-4-1 in the regular season after beating Hinsdale South 9-5 on Monday.
“I don’t think anybody, including me or them, expected us to do this well,” said RB coach Dallas Till. “This doesn’t happen a lot. Approaching 30 victories in high school baseball whoever you’re playing is not easy. They need to cherish that and I think they are. It’s been a fun group.”
Having already clinched the MSC title May 15, RB had plenty of fun on the base paths in Thursday’s final game against Elmwood Park. The Bulldogs stole 10 bases in a 9-5 win.
Leadoff hitter C.J. Duffek was as important and influential as he’s been all season. Duffek was 4-for-4 with a double, a triple, three stolen bases, an RBI and four runs scored.
He also stole six bags in the series opener on Tuesday to break the school record. Duffek had 43 stolen bases entering Monday.
When the Northwest Missouri State-signee gets on base opposing pitchers and defenses have to work hard to keep him from stealing and eventually scoring. Duffek isn’t the only stolen-base threat on the team. Six other Bulldogs have stolen 10 or more bases.
“We’ve had quite a few this season,” Duffek said. “I love it. Coach gives me the green light whenever I feel that I can take a base whether it’s second or third. It’s worked out so far. We’re winning ball games.”
Duffek will need to play like that for the Bulldogs to meet their second goal of the season, winning a regional. Despite a sterling record and a conference championship, the Bulldogs enter this week’s regional at Ehlert Park in Brookfield as the underdog.
The No. 5-seed Bulldogs will likely have to go through No. 4 Montini, the Suburban Christian Blue winners. RB’s semifinal will take place on Thursday.
“We scouted Montini a number of times and we have a pretty good idea what’s coming,” Till said. “It’s just a matter of if we can execute and prepare.
“They’re not satisfied with a conference championship. We want a regional. Nothing less would be acceptable.”