Waubonsie Valley's baseball program isn't known for its quick starts to the season.
Zack Bennema and his teammates are quickly changing that reputation.
Behind Bennema's 4-hitter with 8 strikeouts and no walks, the Warriors stayed unbeaten with Wednesday's 4-0 win at Naperville Central.
Unlike past early springs when the Warriors started in a deep hole, Wednesday's victory raised their record to 3-0. Timely hitting and strong defense -- only 1 error so far -- have been key. And on the heels of great pitching performances by Jack Eddy and Tyler Hasper, Bennema may have topped them both against the previously unbeaten Redhawks (3-1).
"We just have an atmosphere where we expect to win, especially with the players that we have," Bennema said. "Each game that we go into we expect to win. Overall our defense and pitching have really kept us in the game. Starting off 3-0, I just couldn't ask for a better start."
Bennema and Naperville Central starter Brendan Daley both pitched well, but Waubonsie Valley managed to scrape together the only run it needed in the top of the second when Ben Vietri was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and eventually scored on a wild pitch.
The Redhawks put four runners in scoring position during the game but never could push across a run. Half their hits came in the fourth inning, and Michael Kolzow accounted for the other two hits when he was stranded in scoring position.
"Their kid competed. He was the best player on the diamond today," Redhawks coach Mike Stock said of Bennema. "We didn't put enough heat on them today. We've just got to keep it clean because if we're not going to score a lot of runs we don't have much room for error. We've got to do a combination of cleaning up and putting some runs on the board."
Bennema pitched under pressure while the Warriors nursed the 1-0 lead. The junior right-hander got a little breathing room in the sixth when Ryan Jones drove in Hasper on a groundout. The Warriors boosted their lead to 4-0 in the seventh on Hasper's RBI single and Vietri's sacrifice fly.
Daley struck out six in 5 innings of work, allowing 2 hits before being relieved by Brad Dubow.
"They've done a real nice job of buying in and just executing," said Waubonsie Valley coach Dan Fezzuoglio. "It's been a nice combination. Whatever it takes to get a win. Nothing flashy."
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