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Miller deals aces in regional win over Seneca

AURORA — Aurora Central Catholic pitcher Matt Miller was dealing on Monday in the opening round of the IHSA Class 2A regionals. That was not a good thing for the Seneca baseball team.

Led by Miller's four-hit shutout and just enough offense against Seneca starter Josh Rhoder, the Chargers knocked the Fighting Irish out of the postseason with a 3-0 win over the locals. Though the game was played as part of the Seneca Class 2A Regional, Catholic was the higher seeded team and the first-round game was played in Aurora instead.

"We've had a lot of games like this this year," Seneca coach Kirk Houchin said. "But we haven't played this well all year and I'm happy with the way we came out and competed here. Our record is not that good, but it's also not show the way we always played.

"I was here last Saturday when they (Chargers) threw their No. 3 pitcher against Somonauk and they beat them (Bobcats) 5-0," Houchin added. "And that's a team with a 23-3 record. Then (ACC) threw their ace today and only beat us 3-0."

Just about everything Miller was dealing came up spades against the Irish. He allowed a first-inning single to Trent Nugent, a double to Nugent in the fourth, a single to Brent Bergeson in the fifth and a single by Matt Wilson in the seventh, but that was it. He walked none and struck out 11. Only two Irish runners made it into scoring position — Nugent in the fourth and he later reached in the sixth and stole second, but that was it. Seneca appeared to have scored a run in the fourth inning when Nugent doubled and went to third when Brian Bergeson reached on an error to put runners on the corners. However, the home plate umpire called a balk on the old 'fake-to-third-throw-to-first' play but was over-ruled on appeal by the base umpire.

"Obviously, we didn't score and when they put up two runs in the first inning with (Miller) on the mound, it's tough," Houchin said. 'He was throwing a slider that we were swinging three feet over. He's certainly one of the best pitchers we have faced all season."

Meanwhile, in the other dugout, the Chargers came right out and scored a pair of early runs against Irish pitcher Josh Rohder. That came when Andrew Salapatek singled and went to second on a throwing error by the Seneca shortstop. Matt Czerak followed with an RBI single and he eventually scored on a balk, a passed ball and and RBI groundout by Matt Musuras.

"The mound got softer as the game went on," Rohder said. "It was rock hard when I first started. It didn't make me feel comfortable at all."

Rohder also said that ACC was hitting good pitches.

"They hit good pitches," he said. "They have a good ballclub."

"Josh Rohder did a nice job, especially when he was behind in the count," Houchin said. "We were wanting him to put the ball in play in those situations."

Rohder also allowed just four hits in the contest, but he walked four while striking out one.

Seneca finishes the season with a 7-29 record, but Rohder, a junior, likes the team's chances next spring.

"We're going to have a solid team next year," he said. "We have a lot of juniors who are going to be back and motivated to being better ballplayers."

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