Glenbard North senior pitcher Matt Albin went through his normal routine in between innings, just putting on his jacket and sitting in the corner of the dugout.
The building nerves were the only thing different about the day.
Albin took a perfect game into the seventh inning before allowing Naperville North's only hit in Wednesday's DuPage Valley Conference opener, a 6-0 victory for the Panthers in Carol Stream.
The hard-throwing right-hander retired the first 18 batters he faced, but Huskies leadoff hitter Ryan Krainz finally broke through for a single up the middle to start the top of the seventh. Albin, a three-year starter, kept his focus while striking out two of the next three batters to finish off the game -- and finish with 12 strikeouts against no walks.
"It took me until about the fourth or fifth inning until it really got to my head and I started to get a little nervous on the mound," Albin said. "It's a great team win. No matter what the pitcher does on the mound, 6-0 is a great team win. My heart was racing. I was just trying to keep doing what I was doing."
Albin helped his own cause at the plate with a 2-run sixth-inning single that gave him more than enough insurance in a 4-run inning. Glenbard North (7-4, 1-0) grabbed a 1-0 second-inning lead on Nolan Jasinski's RBI single, and boosted the margin to 2-0 in the fourth inning on Jim Krippinger's solo homer.
Beyond that the day belonged to Albin, who ended the game at an even 100 pitches. Robert Leonard took the loss for the Huskies.
"We got overmatched, that's all it was," said Naperville North coach Carl Hunckler. "They made the defensive plays, but it's a lot easier playing the game when the other team's striking out (12 times)."
Naperville North (4-4, 0-1) had two flyball outs in the first two innings but didn't hit another ball to the outfield until the single by Krainz. At one point in the middle innings, Albin struck out six of seven batters.
Glenbard North put at least one runner on base in every inning and had two or more baserunners in five of six innings. Jasinski, Krippinger and Colin MacGaffey had 2 hits apiece.
"When Matt takes the mound we feel real good about ourselves because we know we're going to get a good performance," said Glenbard North coach Rich Smelko. "We're definitely pleased when he's on the mound."
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