Waubonsie Valley survives slugfest at NeuquaWaubonsie Valley pitcher Mike Murphy pitches against Neuqua Valley. Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 12, 2011 9:16PM
If the calendar is reading the middle of May, one better believe Waubonsie Valley is starting to hit its stride.
In what is quickly becoming a rite of spring, Waubonsie Valley is once again on a roll as the postseason draws near.
With temperatures Thursday resembling summer more than spring, the Warriors survived a slugfest with Neuqua Valley, 13-11.
In a back-and-forth contest that saw both teams combine for 24 runs on 27 hits, evoking memories from Waubonsie Valley’s wild 19-14 victory at Neuqua Valley last season and Neuqua Valley’s 18-17 triumph over Naperville Central earlier this season, Warriors’ senior right-handed reliever Matt Risch stepped up to stem the tide.
In 3⅔ innings in relief of Warriors’ left-handed ace Mike Murphy, Risch (3-0) held the Wildcats hitless while fanning five and providing his teammates an opportunity to scratch and claw at a four-run deficit.
“I didn’t expect to come in early because usually when Murph comes in, he’s solid all seven innings,” Risch said. “It was just a tough day for him. But obviously glad to come in and help out the cause.”
Courtesy of the exploits of Risch and a 16-hit offensive attack, the Warriors extended their winning streak to six and have now won nine of their last 11.
Since its 0-6 start to begin the season, Waubonsie Valley (14-11, 13-7 Upstate Eight) has rolled off a 14-5 stretch.
Risch’s stout relief outing set the stage for Mitch Stefani, Chris Anderson, Eric Josupait, Kyle Limanowski and Ryan Vega to help lead the offensive onslaught off the beleaguered likes of Wildcat pitchers Kevin Hodgman, Max Biedrzycki and Tomas Michelson.
The quintet combined to pound out 11 of the Warriors’ 16 hits, none bigger than the three-run homer Limanowski hit off Biedrzycki to tie the game at 11 in the sixth and Josupait’s two-run homer in the seventh off Michelson (0-1) that broke the tie and gave the Warriors the lead for good.
“It was a hitters’ day out here. Wind blowing out, hot, thin air” said Josupait, who finished 2-for-5 with three RBI. “Both teams hit the ball real hard and we just kept battling. Last year’s game was the same way, coming back. It’s a good win and we just got to follow it up on Saturday.”
Jumping out to a 7-2 lead off Neuqua Valley starter Hodgman by scoring three runs in both the second and third innings, highlighted by a two-run double from Anderson and a two-run single from Stefani, Murphy uncharacteristically gave it all back.
Thanks to four home runs, two from Jeff Samuel and one each from Tanner Giesel and Ryan O’Keefe, the Wildcats responded with nine unanswered runs to take an 11-7 lead while chasing Murphy from the game in the process.
Murphy surrendered 10 earned runs on 11 hits while striking out six in 3⅓ innings.
“If you told me we were gonna get 11 runs off of Mike Murphy, I’d say it’d be a runaway,” Neuqua Valley coach Robin Renner said.
However, it was far from a runaway for Neuqua Valley (17-7-1, 9-7-1 Upstate Eight) despite getting four-RBI afternoons from both Samuel and Giesel and seeing four players—Samuel, Giesel, Jack Amaro and Nick Oleskowicz—collect at least two hits.
After the wild affair on Thursday, and with the prospect of a fourth meeting looming in a Class 4A Lockport Regional Semifinal on May 25, both teams will reconvene for a doubleheader on Saturday in Aurora to complete the three-game set.