Don't look now but Naperville Central's baseball team is starting to build a little separation for itself atop the DuPage Valley Conference standings.
Luke Daley's 2-run seventh-inning single sparked Saturday's 3-1 win at Wheaton Warrenville South to make it two straight over the Tigers, who came into the series tied with the Redhawks with only one DVC loss.
If Naperville Central (15-6, 10-1) sweeps Monday at home -- giving the Redhawks a 10-game winning streak -- they'll put even more pressure on the rest of the DVC with three series remaining.
"We know these are big wins, but we need to keep it going," said Redhawks starting pitcher Pat Maloney. "We still have a lot of good teams still to play."
Maloney, who improved to 4-1, went the distance while scattering 5 hits and walking three. WW South (9-6, 7-3) put runners on first and third with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but the senior righty coaxed his 13th groundball out of the game to end it.
Before Daley's game-winning hit, the Tigers tied it in the sixth on Connor Ostrander's RBI single. WW South loaded the bases with one out but Maloney emerged with the 1-1 score intact thanks to an inning-ending double play.
"Proud of our guys getting the top of the order up there and giving us a chance," said Tigers coach Tim Brylka. "We kept fighting to the end, which was good to see. We can either hang our heads about this one or we can come back and try to get a game back Monday. There's a lot of baseball left."
Bobby McMillen staked Naperville Central to a 1-0 third-inning lead with a solo homer, his third of the year. Daley struggled in his first at-bats, grounding into two double plays and getting hit by a pitch, but he persevered and came through in his fourth trip to the plate.
"We've been able to get the bats going all year," Daley said. "These have been close games, fun ones. We want to get the sweep here."
McMillen went 2-for-3 with 2 runs scored for the Redhawks. Baylor Holmes pitched 6 strong innings for WW South while Chris Simpson took the loss.
"It was a good game and Pat Maloney just battled for us," said Naperville Central coach Mike Stock. "There's so little room for error, and we're doing the little things you need to do to string some wins together. The kids are on top of their game."
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