Baseball: Sterchele holds Bolingbrook in check for Neuqua Valley
Two things on Tuesday you pretty much could count on: Neuqua Valley pitcher Anthony Sterchele dominating on the mound and the Wildcats' bats eventually pouring on the runs.
Both came through in Neuqua Valley's 10-1 baseball victory over Bolingbrook in the Class 4A Hinsdale Central regional semifinals that advanced the Wildcats into Saturday's regional final to face the winner between West Aurora and Hinsdale Central.
Only an elevated pitch count forced Sterchele to exit Tuesday's win in which he struck out eight, allowed 1 hit, walked two and didn't have a ball leave the infield in five innings. A 5-run bottom of the sixth inning put the top-seeded Wildcats (24-7) on the verge of ending the game early, but Cooper Avery was on hand to add to a great pitching day with 2 innings of scoreless relief.
"I felt great," Sterchele said. "I was able to locate three pitches, especially my fastball. I was able to get natural sink on it because of my arm slot. I felt 'on' in the first inning and before the game."
Sterchele surrendered an unearned fifth-inning run to 17th-seeded Bolingbrook (9-21) on an error, a walk and an infield RBI single by Ben Mottlow. The Raiders stranded the bases loaded in the seventh, but by that point the Wildcats were well ahead.
Nick Taylor singled in his second run of the day in the bottom of the sixth and Kevin Butler added a 2-run single to give him 4 RBI on the day.
"The last three games we've been struggling at the plate but we knew eventually it was going to come around," Butler said. "We had runners on every inning so we knew we'd get some runs. Even the ones we didn't barrel up started to fall."
The Wildcats barreled baseballs the entire game but didn't have much to show for it early. They took a 1-0 first-inning lead on Justin Blazek's run-scoring single, then added 3 runs in the third when Butler singled in a run and Noah Schnell's dropped popup scored 2 runs.
"We had a rough week where we've been struggling to hit," said Neuqua Valley coach James Thornton. "It took us a moment and we had to flip-flop the lineup a little bit. But we made the adjustments."