By Trenten Scheidegger

After opening the season with a bang, the Belvidere North Blue Thunder suffered a pair of close losses in back-to-back games.

North opened their season on Tuesday, March 12, when they hit the road to take on Woodstock North.

The Thunder brought their bats with them as they combined for 10 hits in the season opener. They didn’t have to wait long before getting their first run of the 2024 season as they took a slim lead in the top of the first. With two outs, Josh Joseph hit a homer over the right field fence.

Woodstock responded with a run of their own in the bottom half, leaving the game tied 1-1. The score remained tied until Woodstock jumped out to their own one-run lead in the bottom of the third.

Once the Thunder found themselves trailing, the runs started pouring in. After a leadoff single by Luke Koeller, some disciplined plate appearances led to a big inning. Jack Chamberlin, Adam Marshall, Caleb Gallagly and Nolan Benney, each earned a free trip to first in the inning. Marshall was hit by the pitch, paying a small price to reach first.

Control was a problem for the Woodstock pitcher as multiple wild pitches allowed the Thunder to jump out to a lead. By the end of the inning, North held a 5-2 advantage.

The Thunder continued to roll in the fifth, when they brought in another five runs. After a quick two outs, North started a rally as Trent Dinsmore ripped a ground ball through the middle. Marshall was then hit by another pitch before Gallagly hit a ground ball through the left side, driving in Dinsmore. Jovanni Alvarez then reached safely on a grounder to shortstop. A defensive error allowed two more runs to cross home. Dom Girardin capped the inning off with a line drive up the middle, giving North a 10-2 lead.

North tacked on an insurance run in the top of the sixth, but they wouldn’t need it. Three North pitchers combined for an excellent outing. Carson Ritchie tossed three and two third innings, striking out four and allowing one earned run on five hits. Ben Wolfgram threw two and one third, allowing two earned runs on three hits. Alex Jokhy closed the game in dominant fashion, striking out a pair of batters and giving North an 11-4 victory.

Alvarez had a big day at the plate, going three for three with two runs batted in. Dinsmore finished the day going one for four with a run scored and two RBI. Marshall had a unique stat line, going zero for zero with a walk and two runs scored. Koeller went one for three with two runs scored, and Callagly was one for three with two runs scored, one RBI, and a walk.

The next day, North held their home opener as they played host to the Central Rockets. It was an excellent game that came down to the wire, but North eventually fell by a score of 6-4.

Dinsmore remained consistent, going two for two with two RBI. North struggled to find production outside of that, however, as they combined for just six hits on the day.

On Friday, March 15, North suffered another close loss as they fell to the Woodstock Blue Streaks 8-5. Marshall was two for four with two RBI on the day. Benney went two for three with two runs scored, but once again, North combined for just six hits in the game.

Defensive errors also cost North as a trio of them allowed for five unearned runs to cross the plate.

After the 1-2 start, North has another busy streak coming up. Thursday, March 21, North plays host to Sycamore. On March 22, the Thunder travel to take on Dundee-Crown. Then on March 25, North returns home to host the North Boone Vikings. All games are scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. start time.

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