Baseball: Nazareth edges Benet in extra innings

  • Benet starting pitcher Max Babich delivers to a Nazareth batter during a game on Apr. 12, 2022 at Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park.

    Benet starting pitcher Max Babich delivers to a Nazareth batter during a game on Apr. 12, 2022 at Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park. Jon Cunningham/for Shaw Local

  • Benet's Jackson Bayer (44) rounds second base on a hit and run play as Nazareth shortstop watches the play at first during a game on Apr. 12, 2022 at Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park.

    Benet's Jackson Bayer (44) rounds second base on a hit and run play as Nazareth shortstop watches the play at first during a game on Apr. 12, 2022 at Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park. Jon Cunningham/for Shaw Local

  • Benet's Tyler Dean hits a single the seventh inning that would start a three-run rally to tie the game against Nazareth during a game on Apr. 12, 2022 at Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park.

    Benet's Tyler Dean hits a single the seventh inning that would start a three-run rally to tie the game against Nazareth during a game on Apr. 12, 2022 at Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park. Jon Cunningham/for Shaw Local

  • Benet's Jack Kane arrives at second base with an RBI double against Nazareth Tuesday in LaGrange Park.

    Benet's Jack Kane arrives at second base with an RBI double against Nazareth Tuesday in LaGrange Park. Jon Cunningham/for Shaw Local

  • Benet Academy relief pitcher Matthew Nelson works the seventh inning against Nazareth during a game on Apr. 12, 2022 at Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park.

    Benet Academy relief pitcher Matthew Nelson works the seventh inning against Nazareth during a game on Apr. 12, 2022 at Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park. Jon Cunningham/for Shaw Local

  • Benet's Luke Bafia knocks in the tying run against Nazareth in the seventh inning of a game on Apr. 12, 2022 at Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park.

    Benet's Luke Bafia knocks in the tying run against Nazareth in the seventh inning of a game on Apr. 12, 2022 at Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park. Jon Cunningham/for Shaw Local

 
 
Updated 4/12/2022 10:19 PM

Sam Wampler's extra-inning at-bat came down to a pair of choices on Tuesday.

The Nazareth senior catcher had the option of laying down a bunt or swinging away in a dramatic extra-inning game against Benet.

 

After playing exclusively at catcher and batting just three times last season, Wampler picked Door No. 2.

Wampler smacked a soft liner to right field for a walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth inning in a 4-3 victory in LaGrange Park. Wampler's hit led to a wave of celebrations, with his teammates sprinting out to right-center field to greet him.

"I was just trying to do my job, and coach gave me the slash sign, so I had to just get the ball down and score the runner," Wampler said. "We've worked on that in practice, so I had to put that into the game. I had three at-bats last year, so that felt great. I've been waiting for my chance, and trying to take advantage of what I can get. This is a great feeling."

Wampler said he cherished his first career walk-off hit, helping the Roadrunners (12-2, 2-1) knock off the Redwings for the second straight day in East Suburban Catholic Conference action.

Wampler, who had two hits and two RBI in Monday's 9-3 victory, made a winner out of relief pitcher Cooper Malamazian (1-0).

"I kind of knew that was going to be game, and I was getting excited," he said. "It was great, getting to second base and seeing the whole dugout running out to tackle me was great."

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Nazareth coach Lee Milano said Wampler's late-game heroics added another chapter to his coming-out season at the plate.

"Sam has been hitting all year," Milano said. "We talked to him on that at-bat about what he wanted to do. He said he wanted to get the bunt down, but (Benet) was moving around a lot in the infield, so that's an automatic slash if you have infield moving and he did a great job putting the ball in play. We gave him the green light to do what he wanted to do."

Nazareth right-hander David Cox pitched a stellar five innings, allowing the Roadrunners to cling to a 1-0 lead. Cox allowed just one hit in the first three innings before giving way to Malamazian.

"I felt pretty good coming into this game," Cox said. "I felt all the hard work in the offseason kind of paid off. This is one of my better outings. I felt I had everything going tonight. We have the talent, but we just need to keep working."

Benet senior left-hander Max Babich, a Saint Louis recruit, was headed toward suffering a tough loss despite pitching a gem. He allowed just three hits and three runs before exiting the game with two outs in the sixth inning. The Roadrunners scored two runs off Babich in the sixth off just one hit to chase Babich.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We didn't quit," Benet coach Scott Lawler. "(Nazareth's) pitcher did a nice job in the first five or six innings. We did come back. It was gritty for us to come back. It's tough when you are playing on the road, and tough being the away team when you are tied. Max is one of our best (players). He's a competitor and we know when he goes out there, we have a chance to win."

The Redwings forced extra innings, scoring three runs in the top of the seventh inning on three hits, with Jack Kane and Luke Bafia each delivering RBI hits. Malmazian, an Indiana recruit, settled down to get the final three outs to set up the dramatic eighth inning.

"Benet's pitcher did a great job, and I thought David did a nice job for us," Milano said. "You have to give Benet credit for putting the ball on the ball in play and battled back. It was a typical Nazareth and Benet series."

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