Throughout much of his team’s run through the Class 4A state tournament in the spring, Naperville Central coach Mike Stock spoke on numerous occasions about his team’s ability to pick up the baseball and not beat itself.
Less than 24 hours after its offense busted out for 17 runs on 14 hits to carry the heavy lifting against Bolingbrook, top-seeded Naperville Central found itself in a much different type of game against No. 9 Montini Tuesday morning at Glenbard South.
Taking advantage of a Broncos’ error with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, which opened the door for the Redhawks to score three unearned runs on three straight hits to take a 4-3 lead, the momentum was squarely in their corner.
However, the Redhawks couldn’t close the deal as unfazed Montini eventually secured a 5-4 victory in nine innings to advance in the 2012 IHSBCA Glenbard South Regional.
“They are a good team. They beat a good team (eighth-seeded Downers Grove South on Monday),” Stock said. “They had pitching coming back (Tuesday). I thought their starter (senior right-hander Chris Bartosz) threw well. Their bullpen threw strikes, but our kids competed, too.
“I thought (Naperville Central right-handed starter) Jimmy (Nashert) was real good and so was (senior right-hander) Zach Aranoff (in relief).”
Nashert received a no-decision after giving up three runs on five hits while fanning eight in 5 1/3 innings as Aranoff took the tough loss after a throwing error from Nashert at first allowed Anthony Vosicky to cross with the eventual game-winning run.
Bartosz, who threw 4 1/3 innings of one-run ball, and four Montini relievers scattered eight Naperville Central hits and kept the Redhawks at bay during potential rallies in the fifth and the seventh, with the three-run sixth representing the only major uprising.
Junior right-hander Tyler Quick picked up the victory for the Broncos by tossing two scoreless innings of relief, while another junior, Brendan Nemeth, threw a scoreless ninth to earn the save.
“We played great in this game. We’ve been playing like this all summer long,” Quick said. “Our bullpen’s been strong and (we need to) just keep it going.”
Being able to put the ill-fated sixth behind it quickly by tallying a run off Aranoff in the seventh to send the game into extra innings, courtesy of Rhett Wojkovich’s RBI single, Montini pulled off its second upset in as many days behind its resilience.
Bartosz and Manny Georgitsis paced the Broncos’ nine-hit effort with two hits apiece.
“It was a marathon and it was an absolute 100 percent team effort, all the way across the board,” Montini coach Eric Scott said. “It was the same way how it was (Monday) when we played Downers South. Everyone had their role and everyone did an excellent job at it.”
No doubt frustrated in seeing his team’s 25-win summer campaign end earlier than anticipated after the Redhawks stranded 12 runners over the course of nine innings, the game boiled down to a simple fact for Stock.
“Unearned runs are what determined the game. You could say we came back, but they won it on an unearned run,” he said.