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updated: 5/6/2014 12:35 AM

Cooney's collective effort lifts Wheeling

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By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent

Nathan Cooney knew that no matter what, he did not want his team in another extra inning battle.

So the junior took matters into his own hands, pitching, hitting and running the Wildcats past Hersey 4-1 Monday in Arlington Heights.

Cooney and the Wildcats had lost their last three games in extra innings. So Cooney kept Hersey in check on the mound, allowing 4 hits while striking out four. He also double home a run and scored two others to help Wheeling reverse its fortunes.

"It is exciting," Cooney said. "We are coming off a rough week. I was glad to finally get a game over quick."

Wheeling coach Jason Wieder, whose team lost to Rolling Meadows in 9 innings last Thursday, 8 innings to Barrington last Friday and 13 innings to Conant on Saturday, was pleased to see his team bounce back from disappointing losses.

"The kids played a complete game," Wieder said. "We played 7 innings hard. And I was glad it was just 7 innings."

Despite the losses, Wieder likes his team's focus.

"This is a great group of guys," Wieder. "At times we really show that we can play with anyone on any given day. Unfortunately we had a string of a couple of bad-luck games. But I wouldn't want to play these guys when they are on."

After four hitters struck out in the first two innings against Hersey pitcher Ryan Allain, Wheeling (10-15, 2-8) got its offense going in the third.

Cooney blasted a ball that one-hopped off the left field fence, scoring Lucas Vieau. With two outs, Brenden Splliane, who has been limited to a designated hitter role due to stiffness in his right arm, drilled a single to left, scoring Cooney to put the Wildcats up 2-0.

Hersey threatened in the fourth with two outs and nobody on. The Huskies' CJ Reichel walked and was able to advance to third on a failed pickoff attempt. But Cooney left Reichel stranded at third when he caught the next batter looking at strike three.

Cooney and the Wildcats then turned the tables on Hersey in the fifth.

Cooney walked to lead off the inning and went to third on a failed pickoff attempt by the Huskies. Jake Jordan walked and went to second on a ball in the dirt.

After a strikeout, George Alimissis, who was on deck, took extra swings on the blacktop behind his team's dugout. Those extra swings paid huge dividends when Alimissis delivered a sharp single past the pulled in infield to drive in 2 runs and make it 4-0.

"It was swinging time," Alimissis said. "I had to go clutch. Those extra swings help me get a lot more focus, know what the situation is and what I need to do."

Hersey (9-12-1, 5-5) was able to avoid the shutout in the sixth. Joe Silva singled to lead off the inning, advanced to second on a fielder's choice, to third on a balk and scored on Andrew Segalla's groundout.

Wieder was impressed with Cooney's outing.

"We had a great pitching performance from him" Wieder said. "He has thrown real well for us all year."

Hersey coach Bob Huber was also impressed with Cooney.

"All the credit goes to their pitcher," Huber said. "He did a great job and was around the plate all day. We had an inning or two that they had a few extra base runners, and that was the difference."

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