Kaneland played Aurora Central last Friday, losing 6-0 in the process.
But sophomore Anthony Holubecki wasn’t the pitcher that day. He was on the mound in Friday’s Class 3A Plano Regional semifinal, and he was dominant.
Holubecki only went four innings, but he struck out eight and teamed up with Nick Henne to twirl a five-inning no-hitter in the Knights’ 12-0 win.
Kaneland will face St. Francis in Saturday’s 10 a.m. title game.
“What can you say?,” Kaneland coach Brian Aversa said of his sophomore star. “You limit the chances on the field. He takes care of a lot of it. Any time your pitcher is striking out a bunch of guys and your defense doesn’t have to make plays, it’s awesome.”
Run support has been a bit of a rarity at times for the Knights (17-15) this season, but that was not the case against ACC (19-16).
In a rare off outing, ACC senior Andrew Bruss gave the Knights a lot of chances. He only walked 12 all season coming into Friday’s start, but he walked three and hit a batter in the first inning as Kaneland opened a 4-0 lead. Holubecki helped himself with an RBI single in the rally.
The Knights broke it open even further with a five-run third to take a 10-0 lead. Tyler Carlson belted an RBI double and Joe Laudont and Nick Stratman added RBI singles.
Holubecki and Henne took care of the rest. They combined for 10 strikeouts. Holubecki walked two.
“It’s the best run support we’ve gotten all year,” Holubecki said. “That’s not a pushover team either. Those guys did a good job at the plate. They called a great game and I was pretty decent with getting ahead. Once we got the lead, I knew I just had to throw strikes.”
Once ACC fell behind early, coach Sean Bieterman knew it would be tough to come back against Holubecki.
“The story of the day is them,” Bieterman said. “They outplayed us. They’re a great team. That kid is a heck of a pitcher. They seem to rally behind him. They had us in all three phases tonight from the beginning. We didn’t get off to a good start. That’s the way the game is sometimes. It’s hard to explain.”
Kaneland is looking for the second regional title in program history. The first resulted in the 2011 Class 3A state championship. Saturday’s opponent is a familiar one for the Knights. St. Francis knocked Kaneland out of the playoffs last year.
“We’re very excited,” Holubecki said. “Anything can happen. We’re cooking right now. We’re not even thinking about [Friday]. We’re just focused on [Saturday]. Every game is a new opportunity.”