Downers Grove South likes to be aggressive, so jumping out to an early lead is paramount to its success.
The Mustangs used that formula to perfection Thursday to post a 9-2 win over Waubonsie Valley in the Class 4A Oswego Sectional semifinals.
Chris Pedrak took advantage of a Waubonsie error in the first inning with a two-run single to give pitcher Danny Spinuzza the confidence to pitch with a lead.
“The key to the game, even though we ended up with nine, was the first,” DGS coach Darren Orel said. “I feel like we’re an aggressive team. It’s hard to tone that down.
“If you don’t lead, it’s hard to change what you’ve done all year. Getting those two runs allowed us to relax and continue to be aggressive. I think that was a key for us.”
Spinuzza (8-1) was sharp, but he had to work out of several jams. The Warriors (26-9-2) left runners on base in every inning, stranding runners in scoring position in six of the innings. Spinuzza pitched into the sixth, striking out seven and walking one. He only allowed one run despite giving up eight hits.
“We couldn’t get the big hit,” Waubonsie Valley coach Dan Fezzuoglio said. “That’s baseball. They made pitches when they needed to. I wish we could have applied a little more pressure on them, but we didn’t.”
Meanwhile, Waubonsie gave Downers South (27-8) extra chances due to uncharacteristic defensive lapses. Fezzuoglio said that his team’s fielding percentage coming into the game was .954, but they committed six errors in running up starter Tyler Hasper’s pitch count and allowing the Mustangs to add on runs.
The prime example was the four-run sixth that featured only one hit. A walk, a fielder’s choice and three errors contributed to the outburst.
“They helped us, there’s no question about it,” Orel said. “That kid (Hasper) was tough on the mound. He really pitched well.”
The Mustangs will be playing for their second sectional title in program history when they face top-seeded Plainfield North in Saturday’s sectional title game.
“It’s a great accomplishment,” Spinuzza said. “Waubonsie Valley is a great baseball team. We just had to come out here and play with intensity.”
Waubonsie Valley says goodbye to six key seniors after they won the Upstate Eight Valley title and a regional crown in earning the second seed in the sectional.
“I can’t be prouder of the six seniors and what they gave this year,” Fezzuoglio said. “What we overcame this year and what they gave, I can’t ask for anything more. I’m so proud of them. It was an honor to coach them.
“Wish it went another way. Wish we played more of a solid game. It just didn’t go that way. That’s what baseball is sometimes.”