Play a clean defensive game with solid pitching, and you always have a chance.
That's how Neuqua Valley's baseball team beat Waubonsie Valley despite managing only 4 hits.
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Behind Jonathan Vlk's complete-game effort on the mound and some timely hitting, the Wildcats capped a three-game Upstate Eight Conference sweep with Tuesday's 6-2 win over the Warriors in Naperville.
Neuqua Valley (19-8, 16-5) rallied from a quick 2-0 first-inning deficit once Vlk (5-0) settled into the game and Matt Wollnik drove in 3 runs with a pair of doubles. An errorless defense combined with the four defensive miscues by the Warriors contributed greatly.
Add it all up and the Wildcats won for the eighth time in nine games.
"We've always pitched and we've always defended," said Wildcats coach Robin Renner, whose team also benefitted from a pair of walks and five hit batters. "But we haven't always hit. Now that it's getting warmer we're starting to hit."
Neuqua Valley sliced the deficit in half in the bottom of the first by taking advantage of a pair of errors. The Wildcats, however, didn't get a hit off Warriors starter Hasper until Wollnik's 2-run fourth-inning double put them ahead to stay at 3-2.
Wollnik added another RBI double in the sixth inning. Waubonsie Valley's fourth error allowed 2 more runs to score and expanded the Wildcats' lead to 6-3.
"This is definitely the time of year where we're playing our best ball," Wollnik said. "I think we're right there. Waubonsie's a good team, and those were three good wins we got against them."
Vlk, who allowed 3 of the 6 hits against him in the first inning, sent down the Warriors in order in the seventh inning to end the game. The senior right-hander struck out the side looking.
"We really couldn't come up with a big hit," said Waubonsie Valley coach Dan Fezzuoglio. "Against good people plays have to be made, execution's got to be done. We just could not move the ball like we wanted to."
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