WHEATON — The preseason expectation was that Wheaton North and Naperville Central would battle it out for the DuPage Valley Conference baseball title.
And while Wheaton Warrenville South and Glenbard North might end up having a say in the league race, the Falcons and Redhawks head into their big three-game series this week tied for first place with matching 9-2 records.
Wheaton North plays at home Thursday and Saturday while traveling to Naperville Friday.
“We’ve had some great series with them,” said Wheaton North coach Dan Schoessling, whose team lost twice to the Redhawks a year ago by a combined three runs. “The year they won state (2010), we got swept by them and lost by a total of five runs. Every year, we always have tight games and I would think this year would be the same.”
This spring, Naperville Central is led by a dominating pitching staff which includes the senior quartet of Jeff Schank (Butler), Cody Campbell (Minnesota), Jimmy Nashert and Zach Aranoff.
“They have a great staff,” Schoessling said. “They really have four solid starters and they are solid around the diamond. Their shortstop (Nicky Lopez) is going to Creighton. They’ve got a lot of talent and they are well coached. It will be a good challenge.”
Wheaton North kept pace with their DVC rival Monday, wrapping up a three-game series against West Aurora with a 10-0 win in six innings.
Tom Colletti improved to 6-0 on the mound after misssing last season with an arm injury.
“He is definitely pitching well,” the coach said. “Coming off an injury, you just don’t know how he will respond. But he’s done very well up to this point. I’m happy for him.”
The Falcons were coming off an 11-0 win over West Aurora in six innings Saturday.
Lake Bachar paced the offense with two hits, including a home run, and five RBIs. John Peltz went 3-for-4 and Michael Mannix also contributed a pair of hits. That was more than enough run support for Sam Nafziger, who allowed just two hits in a complete-game effort.
On Friday, Wheaton North dropped a 5-4 decision to West Aurora in nine innings. Jeff Harper homered in the contest and Colletti tallied a pair of RBIs.
“We didn’t play very well on Friday,” Schoessling said. “Our defense let us down a little bit and it’s been solid for the most part this year. We didn’t execute in a couple of key situations.
“But we showed some fight on Saturday, coming back right at them. We took the early lead and took control and it was a similar game on Monday.”