Baseball: Hoffman Estates tops Naperville Central on walk-off single
Updated: April 5, 2012 9:42PM
With his team still dealing with the afterglow of defeating a third top-10 team with Tuesday’s 1-0 victory over No. 8 Providence Catholic, Naperville Central coach Mike Stock spoke candidly about his team’s key weakness at the moment.
Scoring only a combined 13 runs in its first seven games, Naperville Central headed for Hoffman Estates Thursday looking for someone to set off a much-needed offensive spark.
Instead, the frustration at the plate continued to rise as the Redhawks saw Hoffman Estates do to them what they did to Providence two days earlier — walk them off.
A pinch-hit RBI single to right in the bottom of the seventh inning from Riley Mugerditchian gave Hoffman Estates a 3-2 victory, making a winner out of Jimmy Ward.
With one out and Zach Hommowun on second after leading off the inning with a single and being moved to second, Mugerditchian, who usually serves as the Hawks’ designated hitter, stepped into the batters’ box against the Redhawks’ third pitcher of the afternoon, junior right-hander Zach Aranoff.
Working the count full against Aranoff (0-1), Mugerditchian punched a ball into right field and brought Hommowun home with the game-winning run on a day that saw the Hawks make the most of their seven hits.
“I was just looking for a straight fastball. That’s all I needed to hit,” Mugerditchian said. “I’ve been in a slump for a while now, so it’s a good hit to get me out of the slump.”
Helping Hoffman Estates (6-7-1) break its three-game losing streak in large part was Ward, who contributed both on the mound and at the plate.
Throwing a complete game, Ward (3-1) held the Redhawks to just the two runs on three hits while striking out seven.
“I felt good with my fastball (Thursday). I threw a lot of changeups, too, keeping them off speed and off balance on the front foot,” he said.
For added measure, Ward got the Hawks on the scoreboard first in their half of the first with a home run to left off Naperville Central’s starter, junior left-hander Jeff Schank.
Receiving a no-decision, Schank went five strong innings, surrendering two runs on five hits while striking out five before giving way to senior right-hander Sean Goblet to start the sixth.
“Jeff was solid (Thursday). Sean got through the inning in the sixth and then Zach, I thought, was in the zone and (Hommowun and Mugerditchian) hit a couple fastballs to beat us,” Stock said.
Finding itself in its fourth one-run game on the season, Naperville Central (4-4) scored both of its runs in a two-run third to grab a 2-1 lead but could only manage just the three hits, the same number of hits it got two days earlier against the Celtics.
“Frustrating’s the word,” Stock said. “We’re looking for answers. We’re trying to get these guys to continue to work hard and to continue to build the confidence. We’re talking quite a bit to them about their approaches at the plate. We’re still searching. We’re searching to take some pressure off our pitching staff.”