Baseball: Neuqua Valley wins ninth in a row
Updated: April 14, 2012 6:16PM
Coming home at the end of March from its trip to Tennessee at just 2-3, the formula Neuqua Valley has been using since has been quite simple: good pitching, good defense and sprinkling in some recently added offensive production.
Rattling off eight straight victories upon returning from Tennessee and entering Saturday’s game at Naperville North with a ton of momentum, the Wildcats’ recipe for success continued for the most part, with an addition of a new ingredient: a little bit of luck.
Carrying a seemingly comfortable four-run lead into the bottom of the seventh against the Huskies, the Wildcats were just three outs away from securing another easy victory.
But little did Neuqua Valley know how hard outs No. 19-21 would be to get as the Huskies scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh before Neuqua Valley eventually escaped with a 6-5 victory.
“Way too much (excitement). Way too much (excitement). I gotta be honest, I’m standing in the dugout wondering how are we gonna get out of this?” Wildcats coach Robin Renner said of the seventh. “And (assistant coach John Fumagalli) made a really good point after the game. He said, ‘Tanner (Giesel) made one of the smartest baseball decisions on his feet, in an instant than anyone can make.’”
Picking up junior right-handed reliever Pat Kenny, who failed to retire any of the three batters he saw in the seventh, junior right-hander David Gerber came into an unenviable spot: runners on second and third and the potential tying run at the plate with nobody out.
Despite failing to retire the first three men he saw, including walking in a run and allowing an RBI single to Huskies center fielder Mariano Long, Gerber responded and persevered.
With the bases still loaded after Long’s well-placed single to right, Gerber fanned Conner Adamski looking and induced Tyler Gehr to hit the first ball he saw right to Giesel at short, who took the ball right to second base to start a game-ending double play and secure the ninth straight victory for Neuqua Valley (11-3).
“We all have each other’s back, so I came in there (with) no outs. It was a tough situation, but I got a big team behind me and (a) bunch of really good guys that I trust behind me, too,” Gerber said. “So the play Tanner made was unbelievable. Great play (and) great time (for the double play), so it was good.”
Attempting to use the exact same script he used the day before in a 10-2 victory over Larkin, Renner handed the ball to Kenny after receiving six solid innings from a junior starter.
Thanks to Gerber and Giesel both picking up Kenny in the seventh, junior right-hander Cody Coll earned a well-deserved victory.
Starting for the first time since March 29 and appearing in a game for the first time in 10 days, Coll (1-1) stymied the Huskies for six innings, allowing just two runs on four hits while striking out three.
“In the beginning, I thought I had all pitches (working) and I got out there and curveball wasn’t working too hot, so I just kind of kept going with it and came back,” Coll said. “My changeup started coming together and by the fourth, fifth, sixth inning, I had all four of them working.”
Naperville North (4-10) tabbed senior right-hander Kevin Garon to try and slow down a Wildcats’ offense that had scored 40 runs combined in its last four games coming into Saturday.
Giving up four earned runs on eight hits in four innings of work, Garon (0-2) took the loss despite not getting much help from his defense, which committed five errors.
“We battled in the last inning. Once again, we had way too many mistakes early on,” Naperville North coach Carl Hunckler said. “Five errors, gave up three runs. We didn’t hit the ball very well. I think we had six hits going into (the seventh). As I told the kids (after the game), we’re not going to be successful until we start producing.”