Schank, Naperville Central win pitchers' duel
It didn't take long to figure out Wednesday's baseball game between Naperville Central and Naperville North might come down to just one mistake.
Redhawks pitcher Jeff Schank made sure he didn't make that mistake.
The Butler-bound senior left-hander scattered 6 hits and walked no one as Naperville Central began the three-game DuPage Valley Conference series with a 1-0 victory over the visiting Huskies.
The difference came down to a two-out wild pitch in the bottom of the fifth inning that scored Nick Thomas, who reached on an infield single and moved up two bases on a sacrifice and a groundout.
That was it for the offense. Despite numerous scoring chances for both teams, Schank and Huskies counterpart Ian Gustafson proved far too stingy.
"It's a little nerve-racking," Schank said of the pitchers' duel. "I've given up a couple of late-inning runs, so today I just set myself solid and knew that if I gave up a run I could be in trouble."
Combined with Wheaton North's 13-5 win over Glenbard North, Naperville Central (18-5, 13-3) maintains a two-game lead on both teams with five DVC games to play.
That margin seems giant compared to the one the Redhawks and Naperville North (14-8, 10-6) dealt with on Wednesday.
The Huskies put at least one runner on base in six innings and put runners in scoring position in five innings. Schank stranded runners at first and second in the seventh to end the game.
Naperville North's best scoring chance may have been in the top of the sixth when Nick Solak, who went 3-for-3, led off with a single and stole second. A one-out lineout to second baseman Jeff Lucas, however, turned into an inning-ending double play when he flipped the ball to shortstop Nicky Lopez to help Schank escape unscathed.
Naperville Central put runners on base in five innings and stranded three in scoring position. Schank struck out eight while Gustafson allowed 5 hits, walked two and struck out four.
"It was a great game, tough way to lose," said Huskies coach Carl Hunckler. "Both pitchers threw well. Defensively, things were great. We had four opportunities with a guy on second base, all with two outs, and we didn't get a hit. Some of our kids were a little bit overmatched today, but we competed. And for us that's what it's all about."
The three-game series continues Thursday at Naperville North and concludes on Friday.
"Jeff's been solid all year, and he was great again today," said Redhawks coach Mike Stock. "He was spotting his fastball, and when he can spot the fastball he's going to be tough."
Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevin_schmit
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