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Aurora

Last loss doesn't dampen great season



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June 17, 2014 | 04:40 PM
When he started the season, Big Foot baseball coach Steve Bochat had a list of goals posted on his door.

Among them was winning regionals — which the Chiefs did.

Win 20 games.

They did that, too, ending the season 21-7.

Bat .300 as a team. Mission accomplished.

The Chiefs also won the Rock Valley South conference title outright for the first time in 10 years ending with a record of 13-3.

They also avenged loses to Edgerton in the sectionals the last two years.

And they beat last year’s Division 2 state champion, Lodi, in the lead-up to the sectional finals against Ripon. Both games were held in Evansville.

Everything came so fast that Bochat never had time to add more goals.

It wasn’t until a 9-1 loss to Ripon that the fairy tale season came to an end.

Bochat found a good place to recover from the loss — vacationing in northern Wisconsin.

He took a break between fishing and fishing to call the Regional News and reflect on the season and look ahead to next year.

“It was a sad way to end it, but it was a great season,” Bochat said.

Prior to this season Bochat’s best Big Foot season was 9-7, so this year was worthy of celebration.

Bochat is thrilled that he’ll have five returning all-conference players next year and 12 sophomores coming up from a 12-4 JV team.

He acknowledges it will be tough to replace Austin Hoey, the Chief’s ace on the mound, who was so good he didn’t need a relief pitcher to bail him out.

“He was our workhorse,” Bochat said. “Those will be tough shoes to fill.”

Bochat said the victory over Lodi in the semi-final game at sectionals was huge.

“It was unbelievable,” he said. “The game of the year.”

Not only did they defeat the 21-6 defending champs, but they did it by grinding out the win.

Down by two against Lodi, the Chiefs went up for good in the sixth scoring three times.

Bochat said an extra year of experience and the sting of losing last year in sectionals, gave the Chiefs an extra gear at crunch time.

In that big inning, Hoey reached base on an error and advanced to second. Alex Landers had an RBI single. Zak Creco drove in two to lead the Chiefs to a 3-2 win.

Hoey claimed the victory giving up six hits and one earned run while striking out 13.

The Chiefs hardly had time to catch their breath before the Ripon finale.

“We had a half hour to enjoy it (the Lodi win),” Bochat said.

The coach said it was a big adjustment going from Lodi’s 85 mph pitcher to the Ripon pitcher who threw in the 60s.

Nathan Freytag pitched 5 1/3 innings for the Chiefs against Ripon allowing one earned run, five hits and two walks while striking out three.

Ripon never surrendered the lead after the second inning, scoring eight runs on two doubles and three singles.

In the fifth inning, the Chiefs pushed across their only run of the day on Greco’s RBI single.

Ripon enters the state tournament at 17-6 and played 22-6 Viroqua Wednesday.

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