Diving catch saves the day for WaubonsieWaubonsie Valley’s Matt Schapen hustles home while Metea Valley catcher Stephen Rueda waits for a throw to come in from the outfield. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 10, 2011 9:14PM
Locked in a 2-2 tie at Metea Valley Tuesday, someone was bound to deliver a game-changing hit. The Mustangs’ Ryan Solomon gave his best effort in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Instead, Solomon was robbed of a bases-loaded hit by Waubonsie Valley’s Mike Murphy, and the Warriors eventually secured a 3-2 Upstate Eight Conference victory.
Warriors starter Mitch Stefani had just walked in a pair of runs and was hanging by a thread when Murphy came to his aid. Solomon drove a ball deep to the left field corner with two outs, but Murphy gave a long chase, left his feet and snared the ball to save three runs.
“With the wind blowing out, I knew I had some time to get to it,” said Murphy, who ended up on the rough warning track. “I just kept tracking it and was able to catch the ball.”
“That was one of the better catches I’ve seen in a long time,” Waubonsie Valley coach Dan Fezzuglio said. “That was such a huge play. If that ball gets down or trickles away, they score three runs. And that is what you want out of a senior captain, a senior leader to make plays.”
Stefani earned the win and upped his season mark to 4-1, while the Warriors are now 13-11 overall and 12-7 in league play after opening the season 0-6. Metea Valley slipped to 10-11-1 overall, 6-11-1 in the Upstate Eight.
Stefani, who collected three hits, opened the third inning with a single and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Chris Anderson before Eric Josupait knocked him in with a liner to left field. Josupait went to second on the throw to the plate and went to third on a wild pitch. Murphy’s sacrifice fly put the Warriors ahead 2-0.
Metea’s Andrew Fox led off the bottom of the inning with a double, but he was stranded at third after Stefani got a groundball out and whiffed the next two batters. Stefani struck out four and walked two.
Metea Valley loaded the bags with one in the fifth when Will Doirin, Fox and Billy Shereen all singled. A flyout was too shallow to score a run, and Stefani was poised to work out of the jam. But back-to-back walks to Brendon Serra and Kenny Obendorf allowed the Mustangs to tie the game before Murphy made his amazing catch.
“At first I thought it was going to be foul, but (Murphy) kept heading for the fence and made a diving grab to save my butt,” Stefani said. “I was so happy. Without that catch it’s a whole different ballgame.”
Waubonsie Valley regained the lead in the top of the final inning. Harry Vickers led off with a single to left field and was bunted to second base by James Palasz. Stefani hit a grounder to the hole at shortstop and Vickers raced to third base. Anderson netted the game-winning RBI with a fielder’s choice.
The Mustangs put the tying run at second base when Jake Charuk doubled with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but Kyle Limanowski recorded the final two outs for his second save. Tom Bolle (3-1) took the loss despite a fine outing.
“It was a good game,” Metea Valley coach Craig Tomczak said. “Both teams had good hits, both pitchers were really good today and we didn’t make any errors. We gave ourselves a chance at the end and that’s all you can ask for.”