Baseball: Metea Valley’s Tom Bolle outduels Neuqua Valley’s Nick BlackburnMetea Valley's Tom Bolle delivers his game winning strike against Neuqua Valley during the sectional semifinal at Romeoville High School in Romeoville, Ill., on Friday, June 1, 2012.
| Corey R. Minkanic~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 1, 2012 9:07PM
On several occasions during the season, Neuqua Valley coach Robin Renner continued to stress the fact that while he was happy with the way things were going, they could change in an instant.
Rattling off an undefeated May and coming into the second semifinal of the Class 4A Romeoville Sectional on a 15-game winning streak, not much had gone wrong for Neuqua Valley as of late.
Until Friday, that is.
Metea Valley senior left-hander Tom Bolle was spectacular in throwing a two-hit complete game to help 10th-seeded Metea Valley stun third-seeded Neuqua Valley, 2-1.
Given a second opportunity to duel with Neuqua Valley’s senior right-handed ace, Nick Blackburn, after Blackburn bested him back on April 21 in a 5-0 Neuqua Valley victory, Bolle was absolutely phenomenal.
“I knew that we needed to get the first-pitch strikes over, and I just got the first pitch over for a strike and then we could work from there,” said Bolle, who at one point in the game had retired 14 straight batters. “And I had good curveball (Friday), so it all worked out in the end.”
Bolle (5-3) allowed two hits and fanned five in firing off five 1-2-3 innings.
With two men on with two out in the Wildcats’ sixth, Bolle bore down and struck out Wildcats’ junior catcher Dylan Goss swinging to get out of the inning and end the biggest Wildcats’ uprising of the game.
“He was awesome. His fastball wasn’t great (Friday), but it was his secondary pitches—his changeup and curveball, I think, kept them really off-balance,” Metea Valley coach Craig Tomczak said of Bolle. “For a while there, they were getting under some pitches. I think he froze them on some changeups, a few breaking balls.
“He just kept them off-balance. It’s a hard thing to do. That’s a great team over there. That’s a great team and they swing the bats. They always swing the bats and for Tommy to do what he did (Friday), just shows that he had great stuff.”
Metea Valley (19-18) scored both of its runs in a two-run fourth that was started by a Ryan Solomon single. Mike Fitzgerald followed by reaching on one of five Neuqua Valley errors to put runners on second and third with no outs.
Micahel Mooney would come through with a sacrifice fly to right off Blackburn to tie the game at 1-1 and Fitzgerald eventually would touch home plate courtesy of a passed ball to give the Mustangs their winning margin of 2-1.
In his final high school start, the Illinois-bound Blackburn (7-4) fanned nine and scattered three hits while allowing one earned run in failing for a second consecutive year to get Neuqua Valley (30-8) into a sectional final.
“I just left a couple pitches over the plate that they took advantage of,” Blackburn said. “They took advantage of pitches that we didn’t. That’s like the end story of why we lost the game.”
Facing their third double-digit seed in as many games to start the postseason, the Wildcats jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on senior shortstop Tanner Giesel's home run to right-center.
The Wildcats, who lost for the first time since April 26 when Blackburn was on the short end of a 2-1 loss to Lake Park, would remain hitless until their Purdue-bound center fielder, Jack Amaro, singled with one out in the sixth.
“These guys, they battle. All you can do is play as hard as you can, and they did,” Renner said. “And that’s all you can ask for.”