Motivated Neuqua Valley gains revengeNeuqua Valley's short stop #26 Mike Bogar makes the force out at 2nd base and completres the double play to end the game as Waubonsie Valley's #24 Matt Schapen could not break up the double play at the IHSA boys baseball 4A regional held at Lockport and Neuqua won 9-6 on Wednesday, May 25, 2011. | Larry Kane~For Sun-Times Media
Witnessing Waubonsie Valley celebrating on the field after completing its first-ever three-game sweep of Neuqua Valley on May 14 certainly provided a memory that would stick in the craw of the Wildcats.
As Neuqua Valley coach Robin Renner put it, the Warriors erupted onto the field like they had “just won the World Series,” so when the fourth meeting of the season between the two District 204 teams came Wednesday in a Class 4A Lockport Regional Semifinal, lack of motivation wasn’t an issue for the Wildcats, the third seed in the Class 4A Neuqua Valley Sectional.
Overcoming a 3-0, first-inning deficit, Neuqua Valley (24-10-1) used a seven-run third inning to grab a four-run lead before adding a pair of insurance runs in the sixth to earn a 9-6 triumph over the Warriors.
“I think watching (Waubonsie Valley celebrating) does put a little hop in your step the next time we play them,” Neuqua Valley pitcher Alan Foresta, who earned the save in the 9-6 win, said after defeating Metea Valley on May 16 of the added motivation to beat Waubonsie Valley. “Go ahead and get back at them the next time and hopefully not make the same mistakes.”
Learning from those mistakes made over the course of that three-game series and avenging that loss, redemption may also be on the Wildcats’ minds Saturday if they meet Lockport for the right to advance to next week’s Neuqua Valley Sectional.
A year ago, Lockport defeated Neuqua Valley, 11-1, in a Class 4A Lockport Regional Semifinal.
Coming into the postseason under the radar with just 14 wins and garnering the ninth seed in the Neuqua Valley Sectional, Benet made a point of testing itself against quality competition throughout the season.
Going up against Providence, Nazareth, St. Rita and St. Laurence, the Redwings (15-18-2) have seen what some of the best baseball in the state looks like in hopes of getting themselves ready for the postseason.
Facing St. Rita and St. Laurence in back-to-back games to close out the regular season certainly proved helpful Monday when Benet pounded out a season-high 15 runs in its 15-4 victory over Joliet Central in the Class 4A Benet Regional quarterfinal.
“You play good teams for a reason and it’s a funny game,” Benet coach Jeff Bonebrake said. “You just put yourself in a position where you play good teams and show that you can be on the field with them. In a game like this, anything can happen on a given day.”
Having its Class 4A Benet Regional semifinal with Hinsdale South moved to Saturday at 10 a.m. because of inclement weather, Benet will have to win two games in the span of a few hours in order to win its first regional since 2008.
In all likelihood, a victory over Hinsdale South Saturday morning would give the Redwings another crack at Providence, which defeated them 3-1 on April 9, in the Class 4A Benet Regional final. Providence’s Thursday game against Metea Valley was also postponed, and moved to Friday afternoon at 4:30.
The regional final is scheduled for Saturday at 1 p.m.
Thriving when it counts
No one will question Naperville Central senior left-hander Dan Ludwig’s postseason acumen.
Tossing his 16th career complete game and his fifth career postseason complete game in the Redhawks’ 8-3 victory over Hinsdale Central on Wednesday, Ludwig stranded two runners in both the fifth and sixth innings to keep the game tied at 3-all.
“Luddy knows how to compete and I thought there were two or three times in the game where he needed to make a pitch and he needed to get somebody,” Naperville Central coach Bill Seiple said. “And he seemed to throw that breaking ball down and hard and (Hinsdale Central) didn’t really have a good look at that.”
Now sitting one behind Kyle Kaminska for the program’s postseason career wins record of six, Ludwig is 5-0 with a 2.90 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 41 innings during the postseason.