As the innings clicked by, so did Willowbrook's missed opportunities.
Nazareth's baseball team ultimately took advantage by pulling away to Thursday's 7-2 victory over the Warriors at the Fenwick regional final in the IHSBCA summer state tournament in River Forest.
The victory sends the Roadrunners (21-11) into the final eight of next week's Phil Lawler Summer Classic. Nazareth opens double-elimination pool play Monday at Naperville's North Central College against Glenbrook North.
After going down in order to start the game against Nazareth winning pitcher Chris Campagna, Willowbrook (20-9) quickly found itself trailing 2-0 on Shane Gipson's 2-run homer in the bottom of the first.
"That took a huge weight off my shoulders," Campagna said. "I just went out there and just pitched relaxed and loose."
The Warriors narrowed the gap to 2-1 on Dom McDonnell's run-scoring bloop single in the top of the fourth, but the lack of additional scoring proved costly. They stranded runners on first and third in the fourth inning and stranded the bases loaded in the sixth.
"Four innings in a row we had guys in scoring position," said Warriors coach Vic Wisner. "They got two-out hits, and we just didn't. We did all the things we preach to these guys about fundamentally, we just couldn't get that big two-out hit."
Nazareth finally added insurance in the bottom of the sixth by exploding for 5 runs. Matt Wilson's 2-run double and Campagna's RBI single were the key hits.
"Chris pitched a great game today, and it was just a matter of time before we scored more runs," Gipson said.
Trey Jones went 2-for-2 for Willowbrook. Starting pitcher Chris Roycroft settled down nicely after giving up the home run, holding the Roadrunners scoreless from the second through the fifth inning.
According to Wisner, the Warriors notched their first 20-win summer season and reached its first summer regional final.
"Chris is our No. 4 pitcher, and if he's our No. 4 then I feel real good about our pitching," Wisner said. "Our kids battle. I feel like we had a successful summer."
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