Redhawks roll on in summer regionalNaperville Central catcher Brian Schiemann tags out Willowbrook base runner Jeremy Kucik. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 21, 2011 12:46PM
GLEN ELLYN — In large part due to the grind of playing nearly every day, the game of baseball is all about consistency.
Finding that consistency on a day in and day out basis can be the fine line in separating good teams from bad teams.
In Naperville Central’s case, being consistent is becoming very easy.
For the third straight day, the seventh-seeded Redhawks sent 10 men to the plate in a multi-run inning while the pitching held the opposition to one run en route to dispatching of No. 6 Willowbrook, 12-1, in six innings Wednesday in a Glenbard South Regional semifinal.
Following the lead of seniors Ian Lewandowski and Sean Goblet on Monday and Tuesday, junior left-hander Jeff Schank was the beneficiary of another prolific offensive output, evidenced by putting 12 runs on the scoreboard and pounding out 12 hits off four beleaguered Willowbrook pitchers.
Schank went the entire way in limiting the Warriors to three hits, with just one coming after the second inning, and fanned four.
“I was just trying to pitch for contact,” Schank said. “Just try to make them hit the ball. I have good fielders behind me. (I was) just getting good ground balls.”
To illustrate that point, consider that all 18 outs he recorded didn’t leave the infield. The biggest out of those 18 he would record all afternoon couldn’t have been timed more perfectly.
After he began the second by retiring the first two men he saw, Schank issued a walk and gave up back-to-back hits, including an RBI single from Warriors right fielder Steve Ferguson, to place runners on second and third.
With Willowbrook left fielder Nick Rogans at the plate, Schank proceeded to try and pick Ferguson off first. Ferguson got in a run-down between first and second, enabling catcher Mike Rothmund to make a dash toward the plate.
Junior shortstop Nick Lopez made a perfect peg to junior catcher Brian Schiemann to nail Rothmund at home for the third out of the inning.
Lopez’s throw seemed to settle Schank down as he retired the next seven and retired 11 of the last 14 overall.
“It was a huge play. Two great parts about that play was Ian Lewandowski, who had a great day at first base, he gets the ball to the shortstop quickly — who then has a chance to make a play at the plate,” Naperville Central coach Mike Stock said. “Two big parts to that play and it was great execution. That was a big play in this game.”
Two days after 10 men helped erupt for seven runs in the fifth Monday against Downers Grove South and scoring five runs in the sixth on Tuesday against Glenbard East with 10 men hitting in the frame, Naperville Central duplicated Tuesday’s feat by using 10 batters in a five-run fourth that turned a 3-1 game into an 8-1 advantage and it never looked back.
Spearheading the third straight offensive onslaught that Naperville Central has enjoyed so far this week were Lopez and Schiemann, who both went 3-for-4 on the afternoon and combined for three RBI, as seven different players had at least one hit.
“I just think we’re hungry. We want to win,” Lopez said. “I just think everyone has confidence and everyone wants to do (well). So we’re all just chipping in and doing our part to win.”
That hunger now turns towards the direction of fourth-seeded Neuqua Valley, which eliminated Benet earlier Wednesday afternoon and ousted the Redhawks from last year’s summer state tournament, and the task of winning a summer state regional title for the first time since 2005.
“The neat thing about this is it’s two separate tournaments. Different from the spring, this is a tournament,” Stock said. “We’re playing for a championship (Thursday). The best reward (is) we get to keep playing. It’d be exciting (to reach the Phil Lawler Summer Classic). But right now, each day it’s been a couple new heroes.
“We’re all about Neuqua. There’s something out there afterwards, but right now we’re all about playing at 10 (Thursday) morning.”