For two days Wheaton North's baseball team watched its DuPage Valley Conference title hopes slip away.
The Falcons breathed some life back into their chances on Saturday.
With an 8-2 win over visiting Naperville Central, Wheaton North crawled to within three games of the Redhawks atop the DVC standings with three games to play.
Next week the Falcons (15-12, 11-7) need to sweep Glenbard North for a shot at the title, but they also need Naperville Central (19-10, 14-4) -- which took two of three from Wheaton North -- to drop all three games in its final series against Naperville North.
Despite the loss the Redhawks have clinched at least a share of the DVC title thanks to Saturday's doubleheader split between Glenbard North and Wheaton Warrenville South, who sit in a three-way tie for second place with Wheaton North at 11-7.
"We wanted to keep ourselves in the race for conference and now we need to keep playing well against Glenbard North," said Falcons complete-game winning pitcher Ben Cary. "We just wanted to put ourselves in a better position today."
Cary played in his first game since suffering a concussion in gym class last week, and he responded strong by pitching a 4-hitter with 5 strikeouts, 4 walks and 1 earned run allowed to silence the Redhawks' potent lineup.
Wheaton North's lineup kept steady pressure on the Redhawks by scoring in four innings and getting a runner on base in every inning against pitchers Glenn Kozlowski, Logan Muckenhirn and Tony Petrungaro. Because of 3 errors, only 3 runs were earned against the Redhawks' pitchers.
Jacob Taschetta led the Falcons' offense by going 2-for-3 with 2 runs scored and 4 RBI. Taschetta broke a 2-2 tie with a run-scoring single in the bottom of the second, and then broke the game open with a bases-clearing double in the sixth.
"Timing is everything, and today everything fell into place," Taschetta said. "Guys were on base at the right time, we had counts in our favor, we were putting the ball in play where they weren't. It was just a good day at the plate for all of us up and down the lineup."
Jack Alberts' RBI single in the top of the second and an error allowed Naperville Central to tie the game at 2-2. The Redhawks, however, put only one runner in scoring position the rest of the game.
Falcons catcher Mike Muto helped the cause by throwing out two runners trying to steal second base. Luke Daley did the same for Naperville Central to minimize Wheaton North's scoring chances.
Greg Sells and Zach Leander drove in runs for the Falcons, who took a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
"When you look at the body of work, yeah, we're headed in the right direction," said Redhawks coach Mike Stock. "But we talk about being good on Saturday -- regional championship, sectional championship, state championship. And we were not special today. That's the disappointing thing."
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