Baseball: Naperville Central defeats Naperville North
Whenever Joe Murray takes the mound for the Naperville Central boys baseball team, he puts all his faith in his defense.
Meyer wants to induce grounders and have his defense take care of the rest.
"I trust my team 100 percent," Murray said. "That's my job. I'm just trying to get groundballs. I don't throw the hardest, so I'm just trying to throw strikes and let my team do it for me, too."
So, with a 2-run lead, the bases loaded and Naperville North's hottest hitter, Cliff Vickers, at the plate, Murray was looking to simplify things.
"I just needed to pitch backwards to him," Murray said.
That meant going fastball (foul), curveball (swinging strike) and fastball?
"I was expecting a curveball," Vickers said. "I kind of froze."
Murray struck out Vickers looking to seal an 8-6 win for Naperville Central over crosstown-rival Naperville North.
So why fastball and not an off-speed pitch?
"We thought he was thinking soft again, so that's why we threw the fastball at the end," Murray said. "I think he was a little not ready for that."
It stopped an impressive seventh-inning rally by the Huskies.
Naperville Central (12-9) scored 4 runs in the top of the seventh to take an 8-4 lead.
Jake DuRoss led the bottom of the seventh off with a single to left field for the Huskies (12-10). Murray forced a grounder on Mike Bruebach, but Bruebach reached with DuRoss out at second.
Logan Van Poucke singled and Brendan Lacey was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Murray struck out Mark McCabe to calm things down a bit.
"That one was huge," Murray said. "I really needed that second out."
But Tim Dalton reached on an error that plated Bruebach and Van Poucke to make it 8-6.
Jared Dunnett walked to load the bases again.
"I was getting a little scared there because their tying run was on second base," Murray said. "So I just knew I needed to get that out."
Vickers, who was 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI at that point, stepped in and wanted to hit a walk-off home run.
"I was looking for the fastball, got it," Vickers said. "It was a little high, but I still took a hack at it but fouled it back."
Naperville North was left ruing the missed opportunity.
"We were one hit away," coach Carl Hunckler said. "We made it tough on ourselves. When you go down 4 it makes it tough. We came back nice and we got to where we wanted to be, one hit away from tying it up."
Naperville Central's offense exploded in the top of the seventh inning. Tommy Carlsen had a one-out double and scored on a Danny Hughes single. Payton Thorne walked and Michael Oliver singled to load the bases. Hughes scored on a passed ball and Braden Lindmark drew a walk to load the bases again. Connor Umbright was hit by a pitch and Thorne scored. Patrick Boyer walked to score Oliver and give the Redhawks an 8-4 lead.
"Big at-bats," Umbright said. "Man after man stepping up. It was just good to get those last four runs."
Umbright hit a solo home run in the top of the sixth that gave Naperville Central a 4-3 lead.
"I've been struggling the past few days," Umbright said. "Coach just told me to stay back on the ball. So I stayed back and made a good hit."
Both starters, Naperville Central's Zac Lis and Naperville North's Dunnett had strong starts, but the offenses finally got to them later in the game.
"We've battled good pitching well all year," Naperville Central coach Mike Stock said. "I knew if we matched with our game, it would be a tight game, and it was."