Baseball: Benet bats light up Neuqua Valley pitchingBenet Academy's Sam Santa Maria hits a three run home-run against Neuqua Valley on Monday, April 16, 2012 at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville IL. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 16, 2012 10:16PM
Given the consistency that defines the daily grind of a baseball season, having a week off certainly isn’t the most opportune situation.
Having a week off to digest its 10-4 victory over Conant last Monday, Benet didn’t miss a single beat in piling up a season-high 15 runs en route to a 15-7 victory over Neuqua Valley Monday in Naperville.
After failing to score in the first inning, Benet started making up for lost time by sending 11 men to plate in the second and scoring seven runs in the frame to race out to a quick 7-0 lead, effectively ending all of the afternoon’s drama in the process.
Jumping all over Neuqua Valley’s pitching, the Redwings pounded out 12 hits, including three each from seniors Chris Stout and Sam Santa Maria and sophomore shortstop Chris Whelan.
“It was a tough day with the wind. We weren’t sure if we were gonna play all school, but we all were hoping (to play),” Stout said. “We knew it was a big game. So we’ve been off for a while. We knew we wanted to get back at it.”
Led by Santa Maria’s five RBI on the day, two other Redwings — Stout and senior Greg Arend — chipped in with a pair of RBI apiece.
Santa Maria’s three-run blast to center off Wildcats’ junior right-handed reliever Don Ortegel highlighted the seven-run outburst for Benet (8-5), which tacked on four more runs in the third to open up a 11-1 lead on the Wildcats.
“Absolutely just sitting fastball. (The Wildcats’ pitchers) were throwing aggressive all day. They got ahead of me the first at-bat with a fastball and then came back with a curveball,” said the Illinois Weselyan-bound Santa Maria. “So I was looking for that and I got the pitch I wanted to see in the second pitch of the at-bat.”
Taking the mound for the first time since March 28, senior right-hander Eric Littler (0-2) started for Neuqua Valley but only faced eight batters before leaving with a biceps injury after going one-plus inning. Ortegel and fellow junior Brennan Pawelski didn’t fare much better.
Littler had a pair of balks before leaving and Ortegel balked home a run on an afternoon which not much went right for Neuqua Valley (11-4), which committed six errors and saw its nine-game winning streak get snapped.
“(The Redwings) are very good. They came out and attacked,” Neuqua Valley coach Robin Renner said. “Every guy they sent up to the batter’s box had a plan and they attacked the baseball. And we had some things (that) didn’t go right for us, but that’s the way baseball goes. It doesn’t make me feel any different about our team. That’s for sure.”
Junior right-hander Jordan Rajewski (3-0) picked up the win for Benet after going four innings and giving up four runs on six hits.