After Naperville Central spent two days swinging stinging bats, the mound didn't seem like the best place to be on Saturday.
Glenbard North pitcher Eric Orze welcomed the challenge.
Contact information ( * required )
The junior righty gutted out an impressive eight-inning performance to help the visiting Panthers beat Naperville Central 8-4 and salvage the third game of the DuPage Valley Conference series.
The score was knotted at 4-4 heading to the top of the eighth when Glenbard North (15-10, 9-6) exploded for 4 runs. Shaky defense surrounded Jim Krippinger's clutch two-out, 2-run double that provided insurance for Orze, who quickly set down the Redhawks (17-9, 12-3) in order in the bottom of the eighth to seal the complete-game win.
"I was just trying to throw strikes and keep the ball down because they're by far the best hitting team we've seen this season," said Orze, who struck out nine, walked none and scattered 8 hits. "I needed to let my defense work and they did a great job for me. I look at myself as a competitor, so I love facing teams like Naperville Central that make you work."
While disappointed in Saturday's outcome, the Redhawks still came away pleased taking two of three from Glenbard North after winning the first two games by a combined 15-5 margin. Naperville Central remains atop the DVC standings, two games ahead of Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South with series remaining against the Falcons and Naperville North.
"You really do go game by game, but we're paying attention to the whole league," said Redhawks coach Mike Stock. "We want to win every game, but we're playing good teams. This was a good series for us. I wish we could have finished it, but we've got a lot of work ahead of us."
Luke Greenberg's RBI single gave Glenbard North a 2-0 fourth-inning lead, but Naperville Central rallied for a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the inning behind Mack Heatherly's 2-run single. Matt Albin, who went 3-for-3, had an RBI double and scored on a balk to push the Panthers back ahead 4-3 before Brendon Daley's fifth-inning sacrifice tied it at 4-4.
Defensive issues hounded both teams as they combined for 5 errors and other miscues. Bobby McMillen and Luke Daley went 2-for-4 for the Redhawks while starter Brad Dubow pitched into the fifth inning.
"I think it was important for us to come out and take a lead so our guys could settle into the game a little bit," said Glenbard North coach Rich Smelko. "I was proud of how we battled and stayed with it and didn't hang our heads after the last two days."
Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevin_schmit