Technically, maybe you can't quite call them shutdown innings.
For Hinsdale Central's baseball team, though, all that mattered were the zeros.
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The Red Devils rallied for a 7-4 home win over Metea Valley on Monday, holding off a flurry of opportunities for the Mustangs in the final two frames.
Metea Valley, playing its season opener, squandered bases-loaded situations in the sixth and seventh innings to prevent its own comeback victory.
"We had a lot of chances all game long," said Metea Valley coach Craig Tomczak. "We left a lot of guys on base today and too many mistakes as a whole. We have to do a lot better job going forward."
The Mustangs took a 4-2 lead with 2 runs in the top of the fifth on RBI singles by Andy See and Matt Fitzgerald. Both sides struggled to drive in runners in scoring position throughout the game, but that inability really came back to haunt Metea Valley.
Hinsdale Central (2-1) made it hurt in the bottom of the fifth by scoring 4 runs. Senior catcher Matt Muellner's 2-run double started the ball rolling, but a balk scored a run and Mark Dykstra's infield single provided insurance.
Muellner, who went 3-for-4 and reached base in all four of his at-bats, added a run-scoring single in the bottom of the sixth to put the lead at 7-4.
"We were just really into the game, so we wanted to work hard for our pitchers," Muellner said. "Metea's a real solid team. We've lost to them the last couple of years, so that's a big win."
Metea Valley starting pitcher Jack Szott, who pitched into the fifth inning, spotted himself to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first with a 2-run single. The Mustangs should have added at least one more run, but the inning ended on a double play when a runner at third left the bag too soon while tagging up on a fly out.
Louisville-bound junior center fielder Chris Botsoe, who left the game early after being hit on the wrist with a pitch, drove in a run for the Red Devils with a groundout in the bottom of the first. He tied it at 2-2 with a third-inning single.
Matt Fitzgerald went 4-for-4 for Metea Valley, while Dykstra had a pair of hits for Hinsdale Central. Mike Guerrero won on the mound in relief of Red Devils starter Nick Senicka.
"We were behind for probably more than half of the game," said Red Devils coach Jason Ziemer. "We came back each time, which I think shows the character that this group has. We battled."
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