ST. CHARLES – Downers Grove South’s young baseball team is growing up at the perfect time.
Relying heavily on four sophomores, the Mustangs rolled into the final week of the regular season after a huge confidence builder May 11.
Trailing 5-3 against 2016 third-place state finisher St. Charles North, the Mustangs scored four runs in the top of the seventh to take the lead. Later, tied 7-7 in the eighth inning, DGS plated the deciding run on a two-out RBI single by Brett Riegler to win 8-7.
“I was looking for anything I could drive,” said Riegler, whose three-hit, four-RBI game also featured a two-run single in the seventh. “I got a hanging curveball and I hit it.
“Any win like this builds morale. Going into [the week of May 15] we have Willowbrook [a three-game series ending May 18], and if we beat them we win conference.”
Mike Greco had a two-out, two-run single in the seventh to put DGS up 7-5. Mike Hall, Anthony Stellato and Michael Hoes also had two hits as the Mustangs improved to 21-8.
“[Cam] Crowley had a big game [May 6], Nick Stacey a walk-off hit [May 8 to beat Lockport], Riegler – it’s not been just one guy,” DGS coach Darren Orel said. “It’s been ‘whose day is it today?’
“As of late, we’ve done a better job in those [clutch] situations of getting quality at-bats. We still don’t always get the hit, but today Riegler got a couple big ones, and Greco came off the bench and got a big one.”
After Jeremy Canfield denied an SCN bid to win in the seventh, Mikey Palenik pitched a shutout eighth for the save. Both escaped bases-loaded jams, Canfield coaxing a double play grounder to the mound to force extra innings.
Looking to improve on their 11-3 West Suburban Gold mark, the Mustangs also host Leyden on May 17 in the completion of a game tied 7-7.
“We have a big week ... and a chance to control our own destiny [in the WSG title race],” Orel said. “It’s great to have a stretch like this when it’s like playoff baseball before it’s playoff baseball.
“It’s all going to depend on how we play defense. If we get through some of these games making one error or less, I feel we have a chance to win.”
For Riegler, the focus for the big WSG week and the playoffs that follow is the same.
“We’ve been taking it one pitch, one inning at a time,” he said. “Win those and you win the game.”
Downers Grove North
The Trojans broke out the bats and held on for an 8-7 win against Leyden on May 13.
David Giuliano had a two-run inside-the-park home run and Trey Romay hit a solo home run for a 7-2 lead in the fourth inning (Tyler Rosen singled home Nick Bacarella later in the frame), but DGN had to fend off Leyden’s five-run fourth for the win.
Rosen also had a triple as part of a 3 for 3, three-RBI day. Bacarella scored three times and Romay scored twice as the Trojans laced 12 hits, six that went for extra bases.