As the outs clicked by, Naperville Central senior pitcher Jeff Schank finally realized he was in the midst of something special.
With one out in the seventh inning, however, away went the perfect game, the no-hitter and the shutout.
But Schank's smile remained after the game because he preserved the most important thing of all: the victory.
A day after being postponed due to poor field conditions, Schank led Naperville Central to a 3-1 gem over visiting Glenbard East in Tuesday's DuPage Valley Conference baseball opener.
Schank, who retired the first 19 batters he faced, finished with a 2-hitter, striking out six and walking none while facing two over the minimum 21 batters. The Rams (4-9, 0-1) didn't hit a ball out of the infield until the top of the fifth inning.
"About the sixth inning I was starting to realize what was going on," Schank said. "As soon as I came out I knew all four pitches were working out well. The fastball was locating. Changeup, slider, curve were all there. And I was able to throw it any time in the count whenever I wanted."
Glenbard East's Danny Ryan broke up the perfect game by reaching on a seventh-inning error, and Joe Kotch followed with a clean hit. Kotch, however, was tagged out rounding the bag at first.
Nick Vichio singled home Ryan with a shot that went off the third-base bag. With the tying run at the plate, Schank coaxed a groundout to end the game.
"Our guys did a pretty good job adjusting as the game went on," said Glenbard East coach Joel Pelland. "Our at-bats got better and better. We started barreling some balls later in the game, and then finally in the seventh we started finding some grass out there."
Nick Thomas' RBI groundout staked the Redhawks (6-2, 1-0) to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Matt McBain added RBI singles in the fourth and sixth innings.
D.J. Spears pitched 6 strong innings for Glenbard East. Steven Pettey joined McBain with 2 hits for the Redhawks.
"Jeff Schank is always tough and today was as good as I've seen him," said Redhawks coach Mike Stock.
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