Jack Alberts made a tremendous running catch in center field in the bottom of the fifth inning, while Wheaton Warrenville South couldn’t come up with a couple of tough plays in the top of the sixth during Friday’s DuPage Valley Conference series opener.
It proved to be the difference as Alberts’ heroic play sparked the Redhawks to an 8-3 victory.
“That was a heck of a play by their center fielder,” WW South coach Tim Brylka said. “And it was not strictly just from the play he made, but from a momentum standpoint.”
Naperville Central (13-6, 9-1) and right-hander Brett Kirk took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning, but the Tigers pieced together four consecutive singles to pull within 3-2 and load the bases with no one out for junior Justin Kelly.
WW South (9-5, 7-2) looked to take the lead when Kelly sent a deep blast to center field, but Alberts tracked it down just in front and to the right of the 380-foot sign.
Ben Flores (3-for-4, two runs) was able to tag up and score to tie the game, but the other two runners held up.
“They teach us to put our head down and not watch the ball when running back,” Alberts said. “I tried to do that so I put my head down and when I turned around the ball was there.”
Kirk then fanned Baylor Holmes and got Austin Polezoes to ground out to end the rally.
“Bases loaded and no one out, and if that thing drops they may score all three,” Redhawks coach Mike Stock. “Just a great play. He’s a senior who recognizes the importance of moments. Jack just made a fantastic play.”
The Redhawks manufactured a pair of runs in the top of the sixth to take a 5-3 lead. Michael Kolzow got things started with a one-out single and stole a base. He came home when Alberts hit a ground ball to third that went underneath Polezoes’ glove. Alberts then stole second and went to third on the errant throw. He would come home on Jason Wegner’s grounder to shortstop.
“They put a lot of pressure on you up and down the lineup,” Brylka said. “You let up a second and they’re going to get you.”
Kirk went the distance for the victory. He scattered 10 hits, surrendered two earned runs, walked one and struck out eight.
Luke Daley had three hits, including a double, for Naperville Central.
“Brett pitched really well, his best outing of the year,” Stock said. “He’s had that type of stuff, but not for the duration like that.”