Baseball: Wheaton North's Nelson brings thunder, Sullivan beats lightning
This time, lightning followed the thunder.
Wheaton North's Andy Nelson launched a go-ahead 2-run homer in the top of the seventh inning, and Falcons pitcher Mike Sullivan sped through a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning to beat Glenbard North -- and the incoming thunderstorms -- 4-3 in Monday's DuKane Conference baseball game in Carol Stream.
"The previous inning I made an error in the field and I knew I had to pick my team up," Nelson said. "I really wanted to help my team out, and it worked out for us. I wasn't trying to hit it far, but I recognized curveball and let it loose."
It was clear a lightning delay was on the horizon when Iowa-bound Nelson came to the plate in the top of the seventh and his team trailing 3-2. The junior shortstop's 2-run shot rallied the Falcons (10-7, 5-3) and left it to Sullivan to close it out in the bottom of the inning.
The senior right-hander, who allowed no earned runs during an 86-pitch complete game, worked quickly the previous six innings but he really tore through the lineup in the final inning. Sullivan's sixth and seventh strikeouts were followed by the seventh groundball out to Nelson. Three other groundouts went to second baseman Patrick Dosen.
"We needed to string together a couple more hits, but they're a really good team," said Panthers coach Rich Smelko. "Their guys can throw it and their lineup is stacked."
Wheaton North stormed to a 2-0 first-inning lead on RBI from Joe Klein and Carson Roberts. Panthers sophomore starter Michael Betancourt settled down after that, rolling through the next five innings and finishing with 9 strikeouts in 6⅓ innings before surrendering the home run.
Michael Vazquez and Anthony Ferreri singled in fifth-inning unearned runs for the Panthers (9-7, 3-5) to tie the game 2-2. Jim Zay scored on a first-and-third stolen-base situation in the sixth inning to give Glenbard North a brief 3-2 lead.
"It probably won't look like it in the box score, but I thought we played defense well today," said Falcons coach Dan Schoessling. "We had a couple errors there, but we made the routine plays and that was key to keeping Mike's pitch-count down."