The logjam at the top of the DuPage Valley Conference baseball standings may not reflect it, but Naperville Central's starting to assert itself.
The Redhawks made it two straight over Glenbard North with Saturday's 8-1 victory in Carol Stream, erasing a two-game deficit and creating a three-way tie atop the DVC standings.
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By outscoring the Panthers (11-6, 8-2) 18-1 over the past two days, and with the final game of the series Monday in Naperville, Naperville Central (13-4, 8-2) is flashing the kind of play that made the Redhawks a preseason DVC favorite.
"Everybody's been hitting through the lineup," said Redhawks junior first baseman Brendan Daley, who launched a 2-run homer over the center-field fence. "We really turned it around, and we're going to keep on getting better. Coach (Mike) Stock really got us up for these games because we're going after first place in the conference. We're playing hard."
After striking for 5 runs in the fourth inning of Friday's 10-0 win, Naperville Central stormed to a 6-0 lead on Saturday by scoring 5 runs in the third inning. Run-scoring hits by Blake Butler, Nicky Lopez and Jimmy Nashert led to Daley's blast.
The Redhawks collectively hit for the cycle on 6 hits in the third inning. For the game eight starters had hits and six players drove in runs.
"We've had real good approaches at the plate," said Stock, whose team is also tied for first in the DVC with two-time defending champ Wheaton North. "I thought we gave away some at-bats in the middle innings, but we're continuing to hit the ball. Even when we're getting out, there are some quality at-bats in there."
Glenbard North tallied its lone run in the bottom of the fourth inning, pulling within 6-1 when Ryan Storto led off with a single and scored on an error. That was it for the Panthers against Redhawks starter Jeff Schank, who allowed 3 hits and struck out six over 6 innings.
Matt McBain started the Redhawks' scoring with an RBI single in the second inning. Daley's sacrifice fly and an RBI single by Nick Thomas closed the scoring in the seventh inning.
Zach Aranoff struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to end the game.
"We've got to put the bat on the ball and string three or four hits together and make some things happen offensively," said Glenbard North coach Rich Smelko. "We're a little stale offensively. We're not a team that likes to play from behind. We need to get some runs on the board and let our kids relax a little bit."
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