Baseball: Neuqua Valley uses ralley to propel past South ElginNeuqua Valley celebrates at the plate after a home run against South Elgin by Jack Amaro (12) at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, Ill., on Tuesday, May 8, 2012. | Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 8, 2012 10:24PM
It took a sixth-inning mini-rally, but that was enough for Neuqua Valley to pull out an 8-7 Upstate Eight Valley win over South Elgin Tuesday in Naperville.
After the Storm (16-7, 13-6) tied the game with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth, the Wildcats (20-7, 14-3) answered with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning. Tanner Giesel stroked a one-out double and scored when Neuqua Valley catcher Dylan Goss singled him in for the go-ahead run one batter later. Storm reliever Andrew Perry (0-1) took the loss, allowing three hits and a run in one inning of work.
The sequence was almost surreal for Goss as he tried recalling his at-bat.
“(Perry) was trying to get even with me in the count,” Goss said. “He got ahead of me on a questionable call for the first pitch and I got a little ticked off and I wasn’t going to lose the battle there. I did whatever I can to make sure I got a hit in that situation because I didn’t get a hit prior in this game and I was due for one big time.”
Neuqua Valley banged out 15 hits in the game and South Elgin had 11 in what was anything but a pitchers’ duel. Nick Blackburn went 4-for-4 with two doubles, three runs scored and a stolen base for the Wildcats out of the No. 5 spot in the order, right behind Goss.
Storm starting pitcher David Palmer, hitting fifth, went 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI double to help his cause, though he got a no-decision. On the hill, Palmer surrendered five earned runs on eight hits in three innings.
South Elgin designated hitter Jake Buhmann finished the day 3-for-3 with three RBI and a walk as his team’s cleanup hitter.The Storm scored twice in the sixth on Buhmann’s two-run single off Neuqua Valley reliever David Gerber to tie the game7-7 but that would be the only hit Gerber allowed in his 1 2/3 scoreless innings. He struck out three and improved to 6-0 when his team pushed across its final run in the bottom of the inning.
The game-winning hit by Goss gave the Wildcats a 3-0 series edge against the Storm in the past week. Buoyed by a suicide-squeeze play late in Game 1 of last Saturday’s doubleheader at South Elgin, the Wildcats went on to sweep that two-game stand. Two of the three games between the teams have been contests which could have gone either way.
The Storm went into last weekend’s series holding a half-game lead over Neuqua Valley in the Upstate Eight standings. The three wins have catapulted the Wildcats into first place and, equally importantly, given them a momentum boost.
“It was huge,” Neuqua Valley coach Robin Renner said of the series sweep. “I mean, they’re very, very good. They have some great players on their team.”
The Storm hopes to learn from these losses and continue to improve.
“Our kids battled and I’m proud of how they came back and kept coming after them and putting some runs on them and some pressure on them, but we still have a lot of little things that are catching up to us that we need to work on,” South Elgin coach Jim Kating said.