Baseball: Bolingbrook’s season comes to end
By Blake Baumgartner For Sun-Times Media May 26, 2012 8:50PM
Updated: July 3, 2012 10:31AM
If you ask any of Neuqua Valley’s players, they certainly won’t shy from the fact that they believe reaching the state tournament in Joliet has been a realistic goal since the season started.
Saturday represented the next step toward making good on that season-long aspiration.
Thanks to a solid effort from junior right-hander David Gerber and a timely three-run homer from junior Jeff Evak, third-seeded Neuqua Valley eliminated 11th-seeded Bolingbrook from the postseason with a 4-3 victory in the Class 4A Bolingbrook Regional final.
Evak’s two-out blast over the left-field fence off Bolingbrook senior right-hander Brad Elmore with the game tied 1-1 in the fifth proved to be the game-winning hit.
“He gave me a fastball up in the chest and I knew I was up in the count 2-1, so I knew I was gonna get a pitch to hit. He didn’t want to walk me,” said Evak, who went 2-for-3 and scored twice. “So I knew going in there I was gonna get a pitch to hit. (Neuqua Valley coach Robin) Renner told me to take a hack at it and I did. I got lucky enough to put the bat on the ball, get it up in the wind.”
The Wildcats took advantage of two Elmore walks in the fifth before Evak’s second home run of the season.
Gerber extended the Wildcats’ winning streak to 15 games by gutting through 51/3 innings before giving way to junior lefty Danny Mokrzycki and staff ace Nick Blackburn, a senior.
Despite seeing his ERA rise from 0.90 to 1.21, Gerber (8-0) gave his teammates an opportunity to chip away at Elmore by limiting the Raiders to three runs on five hits while fanning six.
Facing the minimum through three innings thanks to a double play that ended the third, Gerber bore down in the fourth after the Raiders placed runners on second and third with nobody out by holding Bolingbrook to just one run.
“It was really huge. That was a big chance for them to shift the momentum their way,” he said. “And I kind of took a deep breath out there and (pitching) coach (John) Fumagalli and coach Renner both said, ‘Take your time a little bit.’ And I was rushing a little bit, so I just kind of relaxed and went pitch-by-pitch.”
Elmore, whose two homers against Naperville North on Thursday helped guarantee Bolingbrook (18-17) its first winning season since 1983, matched Gerber in the early going before blinking in the fifth.
Elmore (3-6) gave up four runs on three hits, while striking out eight in five innings.
“Brad threw well for us,” Bolingbrook coach Chris Malinoski said. “He missed one spot and we know we can’t do that against good hitting teams like Neuqua.”
With the program’s seventh regional title in hand, Neuqua Valley (30-7) advances to a fourth meeting with District 204 rival Metea Valley on Thursday in a Romeoville Sectional semifinal.