Baseball: Naperville Central rides fifth-inning surge to victory
Updated: April 7, 2012 5:37PM
Nine games into his first season at the helm of the Naperville Central baseball program, Mike Stock’s blueprint is becoming quite clear.
Imploring his charges to push the envelope any chance they get, Stock has instilled a different brand of baseball that wasn’t heavily used under his predecessor, Bill Seiple.
Jumpstarting a stagnant offense that had scored a combined 15 runs in their first eight games, the Redhawks took advantage of their legs by swiping seven bases en route to picking up a 9-2 victory at Stevenson Saturday.
Not recording their first hit until the fifth inning, the Redhawks offense finally busted loose in a five-run fifth to take their first lead of the afternoon and never looked back in tallying a season-high nine runs.
“It was nice. It was fun to run around the bases a little bit. We took a lot of free bases, as well, on their mistakes,” said senior Bryce Kirk, who homered to left in the sixth to pad the Redhawks’ lead to 6-2.
After seeing Patriots junior right-hander Scott Irving leave after four-plus innings without giving up a hit, Naperville Central (5-4) took full advantage of some wildness from his replacement, junior right-hander Jake Schnierow.
Spurred on by Nick Thomas getting on base to start the fifth, courtesy of an error from Stevenson first baseman Jon Savorise, the Redhawks batted around in the inning, sending 10 men to the plate against three pitchers.
Jim Nashert and Ian Lewandowski both contributed RBI singles and Nick Lopez and Ross Murphy both brought runs home after reaching base safely on errors as the Redhawks capitalized on a pair of Schnierow wild pitches and three Patriots’ errors to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 5-1 lead.
Two innings later, as part of a three-run seventh, Lewandowski scored all the way from second on a wild pitch and Nick Ryan’s two-run triple to right-center finished the Redhawks’ scoring.
“[Stock] really established after the Neuqua [Valley] game [that] he wants us to be aggressive on the bases,” Kirk said. “That really turned around this game.”
Undaunted by getting two men thrown out at third late in last Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Neuqua Valley, Stock didn’t back off.
Thomas and Kevin Linne swiped two bases each as the Redhawks’ seven steals as a team supported their six-hit attack nicely.
“We’re trying to create [opportunities on the bases]. I like the fact that we kept putting runs on the board,” Stock said. “We had the big inning [in the fifth], but then we stayed after it the next two innings, too.”
Two days after picking up the loss in a 3-2 loss at Hoffman Estates, junior right-hander Zach Aranoff turned the page.
Throwing four solid innings, Aranoff got out of jams in both the first and the fourth.
Giving up three hits to start the game, highlighted by a RBI double from Patriots’ senior shortstop Adam Walton, who’s headed to Illinois next year, Aranoff (1-1) was under the gun early with runners on second and third.
But he struck out the side to limit the damage and proceeded to load the bases in the fourth with nobody out before letting his defense bail him out of that jam unscathed.
“They were getting good contact on me, so I just wanted to stay in there, throw strikes,” Aranoff said. “That was the main goal and to get it over the plate and let my defense do the job.”
The right-handed Irving took the loss for Stevenson. Charged with two runs, Irving (1-2) walked three and fanned just one before giving way to Schnierow and Jake Klancnik and Will Knaack.
Walton went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a RBI for the Patriots (6-4).