LA GRANGE PARK – Will Kincanon and Jake Bartels grew up playing travel baseball and basketball together.
The two had never faced off against each other until Wednesday’s Class 3A Nazareth sectional semifinal.
Kincanon took the mound for Riverside Brookfield four days after throwing a no-hitter in the regional final. Bartels pitched for Nazareth in his first playoff appearance this year.
RB took an early lead and chased Bartels from the game after four innings, but Bartels hit a base clearing double off Kincanon as part of a five-run sixth inning in a 6-3 Nazareth win. The Roadrunners advance to Saturday’s sectional final against the winner of Thursday’s semifinal between Glenbard South and Clemente.
Bartels talked with Kincanon about the game Tuesday night.
“We kind of talked a little bit on facebook last night asking each other if we were throwing,” Bartels said. “We were pretty excited about being able to throw against each other. We were both on the same team since we were in grade school. This is the first time we’ve thrown against each other so it was a really great experience. I have so much respect for him. He’s a phenomenal kid and a phenomenal pitcher.”
Kincanon didn’t have his best stuff on short rest, but he and the Bulldogs both had remarkable seasons. Kincanon finishes with a 11-1 record on the mound with 118 strikeouts in 79 innings. RB also set a school record for wins with 32.
“Obviously the hurt and anguish and disappointment is there, but I’m happy that I had an opportunity to coach this club,” said RB coach Dallas Till. “It’s arguably the best team in RB history and unfortunately we came out on the bottom end today. I’d go to war with these guys anywhere, any time. We had them on the ropes. We just didn’t finish. We didn’t close it out.”