Baseball: Neuqua Valley wins wood bat tourney; Plainfield South takes fourth
By Paul Johnson For Sun-Times Media July 10, 2013 7:30PM
Updated: July 10, 2013 10:46PM
It took some time, but eventually Neuqua Valley’s bats got going Wednesday to help the Wildcats win the inaugural Route 59 Wooden-Bat Tournament at Benedictine.
The Wildcats trailed Yorkville, a program that just completed its first season in Class 4A in the spring, 3-2 through five innings. Neuqua scored three times in the sixth to take the lead and put the game away with a four-run seventh in a 9-3 win.
“They’re a good team,” Neuqua coach Robin Renner said. “I would have never guessed that we would beat them 9-3 and have 12 hits. These guys should be proud. They played well enough to win it. I’m happy for them.”
Josh Piotrowski singled on the first pitch of the game and scored on an error to give Neuqua (15-5) a 1-0 lead. Alex DiFranco reached on an error and scored on Nick Hilgemann’s sacrifice fly to make it 2-0 in the third.
Yorkville (10-16-1) hung around. The Foxes converted a leadoff walk from Nick Sewruk into a run on Zack Alolsio’s sacrifice fly in the fourth. They took the lead in the fifth. Matt Koski and Michael Guddendorf had singles to open the fifth and each of them scored.
“It’s a much larger school, a great state-level team, and we competed with them for six innings,” Yorkville coach Scott Luken said. “Unfortunately, we just didn’t finish and had one bad inning.”
Neuqua wasted little time getting the lead back. Nolan Hicks led off with a single and two straight sacrifice bunt attempts turned into Yorkville errors. The second one scored Hicks to tie the game at 3. Piotrowski gave the Wildcats the lead with an RBI fielder’s choice and Matt Butler added an RBI single.
In the seventh, Zach Herdman cracked a two-run single and Piotrowski followed with a two-run double to break the game open.
“I think it was important for me to just keep throwing strikes and stay strong,” said Neuqua starting pitcher Ryan Waldinger, who tossed four innings. “A couple of times this summer, if the bats wouldn’t come around, I would walk people and put us in a tough spot. If I can just stay strong, I know the bats will come around eventually.”
In the third-place game, Waubonsie Valley’s Jack Eddy threw a shutout in a 1-0 win over Plainfield South. The loss was the second straight for Plainfield South, which won its first 17 summer games.
“In the beginning, I couldn’t really find my curveball, but I was spotting my fastball really well,” Eddy said. “My two-seamer was moving.”
Eddy scattered five hits in the win, but he picked one of those runners off and catcher Luke Marzano gunned down two runners trying to steal second base.
“Credit to Luke, he caught for us as a sophomore,” Waubonsie coach Dan Fezzuoglio said. “I think his head was spinning at times, but honestly, you can tell he’s growing up and maturing behind the plate and throwing better. That’s a huge difference.”
Plainfield South’s Enrique Perez was the tough-luck loser on the mound.
“For fans, even myself, I enjoyed watching it,” Plainfield South coach Phil Bodine said. “It was two good pitchers. It was a great game to watch.”
Plainfield East toppled Oswego East 10-2 for fifth place. Metea Valley handled Aurora Central Catholic 13-3 in the first game of the day.