When the time came to make clutch plays, whether down or trying to preserve the lead, Dundee-Crown's baseball team never squandered an opportunity.
And it wasn't just in situations at the plate, the Chargers did so with defensive muster and heads-up base running as well.
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The latter accounted for the winning run as Ryan Suwanski, who led off the bottom of the seventh in a tied ballgame with a single, advanced on 2 wild pitches by Crystal Lake Central's Jacob Roley, the last skipping past Central's catcher as Suwanski advanced from third for an 11-10 victory over the Tigers in Fox Valley Conference action during a wind-tunneled Saturday morning in Carpentersville.
Dundee-Crown (4-2, 2-0) managed 6 runs in the first on 5 walks and Fabian Gutierrez' bases-clearing double down the left-field line with the bags loaded looked to be all that D-C needed but Central kept chipping away in the middle innings. Central scored 5 in the fifth and 1 in the sixth to tie it, but the Tigers could have scored so much more if not for the gloves of second baseman Garrett Ryan, third baseman Trent Muscat and Suwanski.
In the second inning, Suwanski threw a frozen rope to the plate off Matt Tegtmeier's single to right to get Nathan Klyczek advancing from third to end the frame. Muscat's dive at third base on a hot shot saved 2 runs and in the fifth Ryan turned a 6-3 double play with the bases loaded with one out when Connor Skrypek jumped on a 2-0 pitch that went to the left of second and Ryan scooped it up, tagged second and threw over to first to end Central's threat.
Ryan also gunned down Parker Harold at the plate after advancing on a fielder's choice in the sixth that would have given CLC an 11-10 lead.
"I was just talking to Zach (Girard) saying, 'we've got to turn two here, get a big play and get us out of the inning so we don't have anymore damage done,'" said Ryan. "And the ball was just hit real close to the bag and Zach was calling, 'take it yourself, take it yourself,' and I just took it myself and it was good communication by Zach and I. We've been playing some good defense but we've got to cut down on the errors."
D-C committed 6 errors, 1 of which allowed CLC to tie it in the sixth.
But Suwanski and company welcomed the pressure situations and made Central pay in the very same fashion the next inning.
"I love pressure situations, I love those situations," said Suwanski, who relieved Luis Garcia in the sixth for the four-out win. "Our defense has been solid lately. We've been practicing and practicing all this time, all through the winter we've been doing drills, keeping down on the ball, working on fly balls and judging the ball in the outfield. Our defense has been solid and coach (Jon) Anderson has been working with us a lot on that."
Suwanski (2-0) was 3-for-5 with a double and 2 runs scored while also going 1 innings without giving up anything in the process. Gutierrez was 3-for-4 with 4 RBI and Ryan had an RBI. D-C walked 10 times and chased Tigers pitcher Luke Francis out after 32 pitches and 9 batters. Francis was charged with 6 earned runs in of an inning and threw eight-straight balls in the midst of walking three-straight Chargers.
Central lefty sidearmer Joey Singer (0-1) allowed 4 hits in 2 innings pitched but stymied D-C over the middle innings while Tyler Lewan was chased after 4.
"It's a tough loss, I thought we had all the momentum," said Tigers coach Dan Badgley, who saw Harold go 3-for-3 with 2 RBI and a double.