Baseball: Ian Lewandowski-led Naperville Central upsets Plainfield North
Updated: May 30, 2012 8:21PM
Throughout his first year at the helm of the Naperville Central program, Mike Stock has continually preached the concept of constantly being aggressive and putting pressure on the defense.
The Redhawks’ aggressiveness and opportunistic offense led them through a pair of wins last week to start their Class 4A postseason run.
On Wednesday, that same attitude and mind set carried them one step further.
Taking advantage of some ill-timed mistakes and buoyed by yet another complete game from senior right-handed ace Ian Lewandowski, fifth-seeded Naperville Central upset top-seeded Plainfield North, 4-3, in the first semifinal of the Class 4A Romeoville Sectional.
Quickly earning a reputation as a giant slayer, having already defeated defending Class 4A state champion Lyons and Providence earlier this season, Lewandowski sent the Tigers home behind another gutty performance.
Despite giving back the 2-0 lead that was given to him in the top of the second immediately afterwards, Lewandowski (8-1) bore down and limited the Tigers to just one more run the rest of the way.
“I felt good. This is the best I’ve felt in a long time,” said Lewandowski, who struck out six. “My arm felt strong and all three of my pitches were dropping over for strikes. We started putting the changeup in more towards the end of the game and we started to fool them in the beginning. In the sixth, a couple kids got hits off that, but I felt really good the whole game.”
Sitting in a 2-2 tie with Naperville Central heading into the top of the fifth, Plainfield North’s senior right-handed ace Joe Cresta opened the door for the Redhawks and they never looked back.
Thanks to issuing three walks and balking twice in the inning, Cresta proved to be his worst enemy as a 30-win Plainfield North (33-5) team failed to get out of the sectional for the third season in a row.
With one out in the fifth and Redhawks’ courtesy runner Ryan Avers on second, the Notre Dame-bound Cresta (9-1) balked him over to third, prompting Plainfield North coach John Darlington’s ejection, and after walking Kevin Linne, Cresta balked Avers home to put the Redhawks in front to stay.
“(The home plate umpire) had not warned me. That’s what threw me off guard so much, especially calling it twice like that back-to-back,” Cresta said. “So, you know, just got to move on from it and unfortunately, we couldn’t over that hump right there. So it was a tough break.”
Tacking on another run in the sixth in a rally that was opened up by an error, the Redhawks were held to just three hits on the afternoon by Cresta, who allowed three earned runs while fanning four and walking four in going the distance for the Tigers.
“We had three hits. We had to try to make some things (happen),” Stock said. “So Cresta is as quality a pitcher as you’re gonna find and he just pounds the strike zone, pounds, pounds the strike zone. And so we were trying to make some things happen and we rolled the dice a couple times and it worked. Rolled the dice a couple times (and) it didn’t work.
“But some good fortune and our kids kept the pressure on.”
Looking to get the program its fourth sectional title since 2006, junior right-hander Jim Nashert will start for Naperville Central (26-12) on Saturday against either 10th-seeded Metea Valley or third-seeded Neuqua Valley.