Baseball: Naperville Central tops North in DVC tourney title game
While Saturday's crosstown baseball battle in Naperville didn't really mean all that much in the grand scheme of things, it sure was a lot of fun for spectators and players alike.
Naperville North headed to Central for the DuPage Valley Conference postseason tournament championship game to take on a Redhawks squad that had already claimed the conference title in the regular season. But Naperville Central's thrilling 3-2 win -- the fourth this spring over their rivals -- sends both programs into the state series with tons of confidence.
The Redhawks fell behind 2-0 in the first and had their hands full all day with the Huskies' hard-throwing Jacob Scharm, who struck out 11 batters in 5 2/3 innings before suffering a tough loss. Central (21-4) cut the deficit to 2-1 when Jack Busch singled in Carson Lee in the second inning on a close play at the plate. The hosts then took the lead for good in the third after catcher Colin Barczi singled and eventually scored the tying run on a wild pitch, and then a double steal saw Will Edrund score the eventual game-winner after teammate Nathan Brinker got caught in a rundown between first and second.
"Today, absolutely, is what I love about this tournament we do at the end here," Huskies coach Jimmy Chiapetta said after his 16-11 squad dropped to 0-4 against Central. "It's a super competitive situation and a playoff atmosphere. The kids on both teams battled. It was fun to watch."
Edrund and his teammates have had a lot of fun this spring. When reliever Charlie Diiulio completed four scoreless innings of work by getting a fly out in the seventh and the tying run aboard, the Redhawks celebrated on the diamond and then began to prepare for they hope to be a long playoff run.
"That was very exciting. In the regular season they were a tough opponent. All three of their starters we saw were awesome. Today, Jacob Scharm pitched insanely well. We just ended up winning," said Edrund, who singled before stealing the winning run in the third.
"I saw a chance and I took it. That ended up being the difference in the game. It's just about playing hard and taking every opportunity that you have. Just having a little hint of Javy Baez magic is perfect. It's incredible to be playing this year. All the guys put in a lot of work and I couldn't be having more fun. It's awesome."
The Huskies jumped ahead with two runs in the first off Redhawks starter Jack Skidmore. Patrick Graham followed a walk to Ryan Yurcus with a double and then Colin McManus and Scharm each had RBI hits. But Skidmore settled down and turned a 3-2 lead over to Diiulio in the fourth and neither team scored the rest of the way.
"When we beat Neuqua back on Wednesday we knew we had some momentum coming in here," Scharm said. "They had a tough matchup with Metea and battled it out. I mean this is the championship we wanted -- North versus Central. We had tons of fans here the energy was electric the whole game. Obviously it didn't go our way but we're playing our best ball at the right time and I think we're scary heading into the playoffs for sure. Other teams better take notice."