Baseball: Naperville Central uses offensive outburst to beat Metea ValleyMetea Valley's short-stop Kenny Obendorf tags out Naperville Central's Ryan Avers while trying to steal second base on Saturday, June 2, 2012 at Romeoville High School. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 2, 2012 6:12PM
In its hearts of hearts, Naperville Central would tell you its run thus far through the Class 4A Romeoville Sectional has been a lot about luck and playing opportunistic baseball.
On Saturday, however, it quickly became all about taking matters into its own hands and not leaving anything to chance.
Breaking out the bats in pounding out 16 hits, fifth-seeded Naperville Central won a 12-2, six-inning victory over 10th-seeded Metea Valley.
With its fourth sectional title since 2006 and third in four years, Naperville Central (27-12) advances to play Minooka, a 9-0 winner over O’Fallon, on Monday in the University of Illinois Supersectional.
“Each year is different, different crew. We know that this group, we’re there. It’s a matter of who comes out and plays well,” Naperville Central coach Mike Stock said. “Right now, our kids are playing with confidence.”
Hoping to pick up where teammate Tom Bolle left off the day before against Neuqua Valley, Mustangs senior left-hander Billy Sheeren (7-2) struggled from the start.
With the momentum already swung in the Redhawks’ favor after their starter, junior right-hander Jim Nashert, stranded runners at the corners in the top of the first, they were opportunistic once again in picking up a 2-0 lead on an error by Mustangs first baseman Michael Mooney.
From there, in the first meeting between the two programs, the Redhawks didn’t let up in scoring a combined eight runs over the next two innings to take a 10-0 lead.
Sheeren lasted only 1 1/3 innings and was tagged for six earned runs on seven hits.
“We just didn’t hold them. Billy wasn’t as sharp as he has been, but you know what? For the type of year he’s had, you expect at some point he’s gonna be a little flat,” Metea Valley coach Craig Tomczak said. “And it just happened that it was (Saturday). Maybe the wrong day, but it’s not on him.”
Throwing five solid innings and giving up two unearned runs on five hits while striking out five, Nashert (5-1) also chipped in at the plate with three hits out of the leadoff spot.
“Oh, it was huge,” said Nashert, who knocked in three runs, of the Redhawks’ early offensive outburst. “I had trouble locating my stuff and the lead really helped me keep comfortable up there and I just tried to battle out of the tough situations I got into. It was a lot less pressure, the fact that we had the lead. So it was nice.”
A trio of juniors — Nashert, Jeff Schank and Blake Butler — led the hit parade for the Redhawks with three apiece.
Batting around in a five-run second and sending seven men to the plate in a three-run third, nine different Redhawks recorded at least one hit as they put together their best hitting day of the year with the 16-hit output.
“We kept getting hits the first inning and just kept rolling through the entire game and kept going,” Schank said.
Andrew Fox and Ryan Solomon each had two hits apiece for Metea Valley (19-19), which scored a pair of unearned runs off Nashert in the top of the fifth on two errors.