A steady rain created less than ideal pitching conditions for Wheaton North's Sam Nafziger, but the senior left-hander made sure it was a beautiful day for the Falcons.
Nafziger gutted out a complete-game effort while pitching from a mucky mound, helping Wheaton North's baseball team top visiting Glenbard North 3-2 in Thursday's DuPage Valley Conference matchup.
The Falcons (20-6, 12-5), who remain two games behind Naperville Central for first place in the DVC, get a chance at a three-game sweep of Glenbard North (14-10, 11-6) on Friday. The opportunity for a sweep wouldn't be possible without Nafziger stepping up for a depleted pitching staff on Thursday.
"This was a huge game," said Nafziger, who bounced back after being hit in the arm on the mound during Monday's game against West Chicago. "We needed this, and we need to win the series. It's not over yet. You can't let up. You have to stay on the attack 24-7."
With all the runs scored in the first three innings, much of the game leaned on Nafziger and Panthers counterpart Luke Greenberg. After Glenbard North took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning, Nafziger stranded five runners over the final four innings including three in scoring position.
Nafziger coaxed 15 groundball outs and struck out four. Greenberg scattered 5 hits in 6 innings, allowing all 3 runs in the bottom of the third.
"I thought Greenberg did a nice job keeping us in the game," said Panthers coach Rich Smelko. "Pounded the strike zone, worked quick. But we left a lot of guys on base. We couldn't get that two-out hit."
Brandon Kressner's double to start the game for Glenbard North led to Brett Consitt's infield single and an error that scored Kressner. Consitt's third-inning fielder's choice drove in Nolan Jasinski to put the Panthers ahead 2-0.
Wheaton North answered with 3 runs in the bottom of the inning while batting around and taking advantage of defensive miscues by the Panthers. An infield single by Johnny Peltz, a sacrifice fly by Tom Colletti and Jeff Harper's RBI single brought home all the runs.
Nafziger made the 3-2 lead hold up over the final four innings.
"We needed a great pitching performance, somebody who could get in the later part of the game, and Sam came up big for us," said Falcons coach Dan Schoessling. "This time of the year you really need your arms to do that, and we had a senior on the mound today to lead us."
Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevin_schmit