Baseball: Naperville Central eager to keep going
Minutes after the game ended, Naperville Central's seniors rushed off the field so they could change into a cap and gown for Monday night's graduation.
It had to be nice knowing they'd be putting their baseball uniforms back on again.
Naperville Central rallied for a 6-3 victory over Waubonsie Valley in their Class 4A Plainfield Central regional quarterfinal matchup in Aurora.
For all the struggles the 18th-seeded Redhawks (7-23) faced during the regular season -- and there were plenty -- a refreshed group battled back from a 3-1 fifth-inning deficit by scoring 5 runs in the top of the sixth. Patrick Boyer delivered a huge two-out 2-run double to tie it, and Naperville Central put the next four batters on base to take the lead for good.
Jared Suchevits, relieving winning pitcher Kyle Steele, struck out the side in the bottom of the sixth and cruised through the seventh to send the Redhawks into the regional semifinals to face No. 2 Metea Valley on Wednesday.
"We all fed off each other and the energy in the dugout was amazing," Suchevits said. "We just kept going. It was awesome. Our record throughout the year, we weren't even paying attention to it. It's the playoffs now. It's anybody's game."
Steele and counterpart Alex Lemmons, who also pitched 5 innings for No. 15 Waubonsie Valley (9-22), escaped numerous jams as the teams put a combined 23 runners on base through the first five innings. Both sides stranded the bases loaded and the Warriors hit into a pair of double plays.
Waubonsie Valley took a 3-1 fifth-inning lead by scoring twice without hitting the ball out of the infield. The Redhawks responded by sending 10 batters to the plate in the sixth inning, highlighted by RBI singles from Suchevits and Dino Biggers.
"It kind of got away from us a little bit," said Warriors coach Bryan Acevedo. "We weren't able to minimize the damage and it cost us. We made some routine plays not look routine and we weren't able to close it out."
Sam Hojnar gave the Redhawks a 1-0 third-inning lead with an RBI single but Waubonsie Valley's Will Jaynes tied it in the bottom of the inning with his own run-scoring single.
"We had a lot of good at-bats so I was confident we could get it going any time, but we had to string it together," said Naperville Central coach Mike Stock. "Postseason high school baseball is Game 7 every day. All of these wins are big."