Close games have not been nice to the Benet baseball team. On Wednesday a close contest extended the hand of friendship.
Thanks to a three-run fourth inning, the Redwings were able to withstand a late rally by Notre Dame to prevail 5-4 in Lisle.
"We've been in dogfights all season. We've had seven or eight one-run losses," said Redwings coach Scott Lawler. "I told the team the law of averages had to start working in our favor and we would win the one-run games. We fought them off. We made some good pitches and got some timely hits."
One hit that couldn't have been more timely was senior Billy Tumpane's two-run homer in the fourth that put Benet ahead 4-2. His first high school homer, it came with one out and with Joe Giuffre on base. Giuffre had singled to left and moved into scoring position on Joe Boyle's sacrifice bunt.
"(The Notre Dame pitcher) fell behind in the count. With me being the No. 9 hitter, I knew a fastball was coming. It was right down the middle," Tumpane said. "I was able to turn on it and we got the lead."
As the Redwings did postgame maintenance on the field, Tumpane was asked if he had kept the ball.
"I don't know who has it, but I want it," he said smiling.
Lawler said as the No. 9 hitter Tumpane has been asked to "bunt and put the ball in play" but was happy that Tumpane was swinging away.
"He's been trying to drive the ball. It couldn't have come at a better time," he said.
Benet (14-12 overall, 5-4 East Suburban Catholic Conference) wrapped up its big inning when catcher Kevin Jendra tripled to left center. James Colletti, the designated runner for Jendra, scored on a wild pitch that made it 5-2.
The Redwings had tied the game at 1-all in the bottom of the first. Leadoff hitter Chris Whelan doubled to center, moved to third on Jendra's groundball out and scored on Sam Santa Maria's sacrifice fly.
Benet took a 2-1 lead in the third. Jendra singled and moved to second on a wild pitch. Winning pitcher Patrick McInerney brought him home with a single.
McInerney went 5 innings and struck out six. Chris Sanderson finished out the game, striking out three and earning the save.
Since last week's series against Joliet Catholic where the Redwings were outscored 21-4 and lost both games, Lawler has liked the level of play Benet has shown with the regular season in its homestretch.
"The team responded putting some wins together. We're right where we need to be," he said.
Notre Dame (11-19, 3-10) left seven men on base, including the bases loaded in the sixth after scoring two runs to pull within 5-4.
"We've got to put the ball in play more tomorrow (Thursday)," coach Nelson Gord said.
The teams meet up again Thursday in Niles. Game time is 4:30 p.m.