Baseball: Neuqua Valley clinches Upstate Eight Valley with doubleheader sweepNeuqua Valley's David Gerber delivers against Waubonsie Valley on Saturday, May 12, 2012, in Naperville. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 12, 2012 8:13PM
Any coach will tell you they’d like their team to be peaking as it heads towards postseason play.
With just one week remaining in the regular season after play on Saturday, Neuqua Valley is skyrocketing towards the postseason.
Showing off its capabilities with the bats over the last few days, Neuqua Valley showed off its dangerously good pitching capabilities to help it complete a three-game series sweep by taking both games of a doubleheader by scores of 3-2 and 1-0, respectively, in Naperville.
In matching its win total from last year at 25 and extending its winning streak to 10 games, Neuqua Valley also claimed the Upstate Eight Valley Division title with the doubleheader sweep, with South Elgin losing the first game of its doubleheader with Metea Valley.
Grabbing a quick 2-0 lead in Game 1, thanks to back-to-back RBI singles to center in the third from senior shortstop Tanner Giesel and junior catcher Dylan Goss, the Wildcats walked the Warriors off in the bottom of the seventh, courtesy of a Nick Blackburn liner to center to pull out the 3-2 victory.
“I was waiting for a pitch to hit and the first two were off-speed and I wanted to make sure I got a fastball,” Blackburn said. “And 2-0, (Waubonsie Valley senior right-hander Mitch Stefani) threw it right down the middle and I just took it back where it came from.”
Blackburn’s single made a winner out of David Gerber, one of two juniors Neuqua Valley coach Robin Renner tabbed to keep the Wildcats’ momentum going.
Gerber (7-0) fired a complete-game, six-hitter while striking out eight and allowing two runs, recovering nicely from seeing a 2-0 lead disappear in top of the sixth.
Getting the first two guys out to begin the sixth, Gerber allowed a single to Troy Fumagalli and walked Tyler Josupait before C.J. Lee blooped a two-run triple to right to tie the game at 2-2.
“I was doing all right out there. I definitely let a few pitches in the zone that I missed my spot a little bit on, and my defense made some great plays behind me when that happened,” he said. “And sometimes you don’t get so lucky and they get a good hit like C.J. Lee.
“(He) had a great hit and I left it up and he made me pay for it. But that’s where we come in, our bats have been getting hot lately and that’s where we come back in and get guys on, get them over and get them in.”
Starting a game for the first time since April 19, Jonathan Vlk picked up right where Gerber left off in Game 2 for Neuqua Valley (25-7, 20-3 Upstate Eight).
Limiting the Warriors to four hits, Vlk (3-1) tossed a complete game of his own while his defense helped him by turning double plays to end consecutive innings in the second and the third.
“I haven’t pitched in over two-and-a-half weeks now and I come back and start. It feels good up there. Feels relaxed and the fastball was working good (Saturday),” said Vlk, who struck out three. “The curveball was good, changeup—I didn’t throw it as much as I wanted to, but I got batters out (on it) when I needed to.”
Responding quite well from Thursday’s 13-3 loss at home to Neuqua Valley, Waubonsie Valley (12-17, 9-12 Upstate Eight) received two quality starts, as well.
Nearly matching Gerber and Vlk, a pair of senior right-handers, Stefani and Ryan Vasicek, both tossed complete games for the Warriors.
Stefani (1-5) and Vasicek (1-3) combined to hold the Wildcats to four runs on 11 hits, two days after the Wildcats pounded out 13 runs on 14 hits.
“They both pitched well. They do everything we ask them to do. (They) just compete and they did a great job,” Waubonsie Valley coach Dan Fezzuoglio said. “That’s obviously one of the better teams we’ve seen this year and (our guys) played well. We just couldn’t get some hits.”