Baseball: Naperville North rocks Naperville CentralNaperville North's Mike Laurenzo dives for a ball during their game against Naperville Central at Naperville North on Thursday, May 10, 2012. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 10, 2012 7:57PM
Coming into Thursday with a series win over Naperville North already in hand, the focus for Naperville Central was two-fold.
Not only was Naperville Central looking to keep pace with Wheaton North in the DuPage Valley Conference, but it was also aiming to try and right a problem that has been plaguing it all year: an inability to close out a series.
With senior right-handed ace Ian Lewandowski on the mound, the Redhawks had reason to feel confident coming in, but that optimism and confidence didn’t last very long.
Courtesy of three multi-run innings, Naperville North took out two days’ worth of frustration in salvaging the third game of the series by rolling to a 12-1, five-inning victory Thursday.
Naperville North’s ace, senior right-hander Mariano Long was the beneficiary of the 12-run, 11-hit onslaught that knocked Naperville Central into second place in the DVC, one game behind Wheaton North.
“I thought I threw pretty well. I hate losing to (Naperville) Central. I have (hated it) ever since we lost to them my sophomore year (in the 2010 Class 4A Plainfield South Sectional Semifinal),” said the Air Force-bound Long. “I hate losing to them and I wanted to win this series more than (any) other. We didn’t get it done the first two games and I wasn’t going to let the third one go by. So I just went out there and pitched the best I could and win at every pitch.”
Picking up his third win over the Redhawks in 10 tries, Long (7-2) went the entire way in firing a five-inning complete game and allowing just one run on four hits while fanning five for the Huskies (18-13, 12-6).
Meanwhile, in his worst outing of the season, Lewandowski (5-1) got charged with 11 runs, with only three of the 11 runs being earned thanks to some shoddy Redhawks’ defense, on eight hits in only 3 1/3 innings of work.
Eight Huskies recorded at least one hit and five different Huskies knocked in two runs each as the Huskies jumped to a quick 3-0 lead after one inning and just continued to put the pressure on Lewandowski and the Redhawks’ defense, which committed six errors.
Leading 4-1 after two innings and having tons of momentum after Long fanned two Redhawks to strand the bases loaded in the top of the third, Naperville North tallied four runs in both the third and the fourth to break the game open.
“I’m sure for Ian, that’s probably one of the tougher performances he’s had in three years,” Naperville North coach Carl Hunckler said. “We have a great deal of respect for him and certainly brought a great deal of excitement for our guys to have that opportunity to face him. The guys get up when they’re facing someone’s No. 1. It was just a great outing for us.”
With three games left in the DVC campaign, Naperville Central (19-11, 13-5) will need to shake the loss off quickly and not dwell on the fact it failed to complete a three-game sweep for the third straight series.
“Opportunity we missed. An opportunity we missed. An opportunity to compete and we didn’t,” Naperville Central coach Mike Stock said. “That was disappointing. The last couple of days have been tight ballgames, exciting ballgames. And (Thursday), we just didn’t compete. That’s what is disappointing, but we’re going to bounce back.”