Boatright leads East Aurora over Batavia

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Boatright leads East Aurora over Batavia

Friday, Feb. 25, 2011
11:10 PM

By Brian Miller
YourSeason.com

There was no way East Aurora guard Ryan Boatright was walking out of the Tomcats' gym Friday night with anything but a happy ending.

Boatright scored 23 of his 33 points in the second half and single-handedly willed East in a mesmerizing fourth quarter to lead the Tomcats to a 63-59 victory over Batavia in an Upstate Eight Conference crossover home finale on senior night.

"We wanted to be on a roll entering the playoffs," said Boatright, also had nine rebounds, five assists and three steals. "I knew I had to make something happen for us to win. They were doing a good job doubling me, trying to get the ball out of my hands right away, basically saying the rest of my team's gotta beat them."

Despite a pair of No. 24's for each team being out-- leading scorer Jesse Coffey (illness) for Batavia and sharpshooter Letrell "Snoop" Viser (ankle) for East-- the Bulldogs (13-12) handled their business by using their size advantage down low to pound the Tomcats (21-5) into submission.

Cole Gardner scored 25 points to go with 17 rebounds and Elliott Vaughn had 11 points and 15 rebounds, not only keeping pace with East, but grabbing a four-point lead with six minutes remaining in the fourth.

"We had some good shots early at the start of the game, they just weren't dropping," Bulldogs coach Jim Roberts said. "

Batavia finished the fourth quarter alone with 10 offensive rebounds.

"Batavia is well-coached and they came to play," Tomcats coach Wendell Jeffries said. "We got up on them early and then they came back, took a four-point lead. And then Ryan Boatright really stepped up and showed why he's going to play in the Big East."

After that lead, Boatright made a play on every East possession.

He knocked down two free throws, went coast-to-coast for hard-earned layups on two straights possessions, knocked down two more free throws, assisted to teammate Bryan Robinson, and hit a jumper.

Then he hit perhaps his biggest shot of the night, a deep three from the left wing that gave East a 55-51 lead with 1:35 left, simultaneously bringing the crowd to its feet in a roar.

"It was game time," Boatright said. "As soon as the fourth quarter came I knew it was in me, it was hammer time, time to go. That three just came off emotion and a lot of hard work. I shoot that shot a lot of times in practice and a lot of times after practice."

Boatright came right back after that shot and stole a ball, assisting to Dominique Johnson for a layup before hitting another free throw a moment later to give East a 58-51 lead.

"He did some things in the fourth quarter that were magical," Roberts said. "He took over, but we didn't do ourselves any favors by going 7-for-20 shooting in the fourth quarter."

East seniors Johnson and John Williams (17 points) sealed the win with clutch free throws in the waning seconds, while Tom Okapal had 15 rebounds.

The only way East will see its familiar court again will be by winning the Bolingbrook 4A Regional, in which they are seeded first, to reach the sectional it will host.

The Tomcats will have to get through an opening round match and a potential third-time matchup with Neuqua Valley, meaning their are no guarantees, making Boatright's last regular season performance all the more special to him and to the fans who watched him play for four years.

"I wanted to leave with a bang," Boatright said. "I want people to remember me for something good, remember my last game. If it was a move, a shot, the win period, I wanted them to remember me because I don't know if we'll make it back here."

Wake-up Call: Miggy gets the boot; Rodon's rocky debut; More bad news for Cubs?

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AP

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White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

White Sox willing to overlook 'rough' patches as healthy Carlos Rodon returns

The two fastballs that soared to the backstop on Wednesday night should give you a strong indication that Carlos Rodon was far from perfect.

But in making his first start of the 2017 season, the White Sox pitcher also offered his team plenty of signals that his health isn’t going to be an issue.

Rodon returned to the mound for the first time since last September and brought the goods that made him one of baseball’s top pitching prospects several years ago. Given he’d missed three months with bursitis in the left shoulder and the potential value he offers to a franchise only half a season into its first rebuild in 20 years, that was plenty for the White Sox to overlook the rust Rodon showed in a 12-3 White Sox loss to the New York Yankees at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“He started a little rough early obviously, got some high pitch counts,” manager Rick Renteria said. “And then he kind of settled down.

“Having him back in the rotation and getting him back out there on the big league field, coming out of there feeling good, healthy. I'm sure he will continue to get better as he continues to get out there and move forward.”

Renteria said he wasn’t surprised that Rodon struggled with his command as much as he did against the Yankees. The issues the pitcher displayed in uncorking a pair of wild pitches, walking six batters and throwing strikes on only 41 of 94 pitches were also present during Rodon’s four rehab starts in the minors.

But as long as the stuff was there, the White Sox would be OK with any issues that accompanied the performance. Rodon began to alleviate those concerns immediately when he earned a called strike on the game’s first pitch with a 93-mph fastball to Brett Gardner. Featuring a four-seamer with an absurd amount of movement and a nasty slider he struggled to control, Rodon checked all the boxes the White Sox hoped for from a pitcher they believe will be a frontline starter for years to come. Rodon also was pleased by how he felt before, during and after the contest.

“I was pretty excited,” Rodon said. “I was going a little fast in the first. But it was good to be out there. Next time out, it’ll hopefully be a little better. Arm feels good, body feels good, all you can ask for.”

Well, it’s not ALL you can ask for, but it’s pretty damn good out of the gate given how slow Rodon’s return took. His four-seam fastball averaged 94.9 mph according to BrooksBaseball.Net and touched 97 mph. His two-seamer averaged 94.4 mph and touched 95. And his slider, though he couldn’t control it, nor locate it for a strike, averaged 86 mph.

“You could see (Omar Narvaez) going over to try to catch some balls that were having tremendous run,” Renteria said. “That's (Rodon). He's got some tremendous life, he's just trying to harness it the best that he can and being able to execute where he wants to get as many strikes as possible.”

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The strikes were about the only thing Rodon didn’t bring with him. He walked Gardner to start the game and issued two more free passes after a Tim Anderson error allowed a run to score and extended the first inning. Rodon threw 37 pitches in the first, only 15 for strikes.

He also reached a full count to each of the batters he faced in the second inning. Rodon walked two more with two outs in the third inning after he’d retired six batters in a row.

And there were those pesky first-inning wild pitches that resembled something out of ‘Bull Durham.’

But all in all, Rodon and the White Sox ultimately saw enough in the first outing to be pleased.

“Great stuff, great life, but the goal is to put it in the zone and let them swing it to get guys out early,” Rodon said. “That’s not what happened. I’ll get back to that.”

“It’s a tough loss, but it’s better to be with the guys out on the field grinding than sitting on the couch and watching, for sure.”