Baseball: Naperville Central’s Ian Lewandowski wins home finale
Updated: May 16, 2012 8:42PM
Fully mindful that Wednesday could be the final time he would take the mound at home, Naperville Central senior right-hander Ian Lewandowski desperately wanted to make the most of it.
Unfazed by surrendering an unearned run in the top of the first inning, Lewandowski was his usual stout self throughout the remaining six innings in helping lead Naperville Central to a 5-1 victory over West Chicago Wednesday in Naperville.
Rebounding successfully from getting tagged for 11 runs, three of them earned, on eight hits in only 3 2/3 innings last Thursday at Naperville North, Lewandowski (6-1) scattered six hits while striking out 11, a season-high, in his fourth complete game of the year.
“I’ve been waiting to throw ever since that game and that was probably the worst game I’ve thrown in my three years on varsity. (Naperville North) was just ripping the ball off me, no matter what it was,” Lewandowski said. “I didn’t really do much (against Naperville North), so I just wanted to come out here and compete. We had a rough first inning, but I didn’t let any of that get to me. I tried to throw strikes the whole game. … I’m glad we finally put some runs on the board towards the end of the game. I knew we’d get some runs eventually. We just had to make adjustments.”
Because of Wheaton North winning the 2012 DuPage Valley Conference title outright, courtesy of a 13-3 win at Wheaton Warrenville South, Naperville Central (22-11, 16-5) was forced to settle for a second-place finish behind Wheaton North for a second straight year.
Much like in Monday’s 10-9, eight-inning victory over the Wildcats, the fifth inning was the turning point for the Redhawks’ offense.
Batting around as a team in the bottom of the fifth, three Redhawks recorded RBI singles off the Wildcats’ starter, senior left-hander Joe Loftus, capped by a two-run single from Kevin Linne.
“We were taking good hacks throughout the whole day and we knew we were going to get to (Loftus), and we did,” said Redhawks’ junior shortstop Nick Lopez, who went 3-for-3 and had the game-tying RBI in the fifth and scored a run.
Thanks to the four-run outburst in the fifth and the Redhawks tallying another run in the sixth, Lewandowski, whose ERA stands at 0.72 heading into his start against Oswego next Thursday in a Class 4A Downers Grove South Regional semifinal, got that cherished victory in his last home start.
“It was real important,” Lewandowski said. “I mean, being up here for three years and throwing on Central’s field — especially the last time before all these renovations come up, it’s really big to get that win on the mound. I’m not gonna be on that mound every again, so it meant a lot.”
West Chicago (6-28, 1-20) scored its lone run in the first with the help of a pair of Redhawk errors and was threatening to tack on after getting its first two men on in the fourth with consecutive singles.
With the Wildcats having runners on the corners, they attempted to take a 2-0 lead on a double steal, but the play was quickly snuffed out by the combination of Redhawks’ junior catcher Brian Schiemann and Lopez with a quick exchange to nail Nick Driscoll at the plate.
“I thought (that play) gave us a boost, gave us energy and Ian did the job the rest of the way,” Naperville Central coach Mike Stock said.