AURORA — Playing its first baseball game since a three-game sweep at the hands of Naperville Central, Glenbard North’s dream scenario didn’t include facing a six-run deficit against West Aurora Wednesday.
But the Panthers showed great resilience in overcoming a 7-1 disadvantage, plating eight runs in the top of the sixth inning on their way to a 10-7 victory.
“It was huge,” said Glenbard North coach Rich Smelko. “After three games with Naperville Central where things didn’t go our way at all, to come from behind after trailing by six runs, it’s huge.”
Jeff LaPage provided the big blow with a grand slam that pulled the visitors within one, and Ryan Storto later followed with a two-run single.
Brett Consitt recorded the win on the mound after pitching five innings in relief.
“We had talked in the third and fourth innings that we needed to start chipping away,” the coach said. “Obviously we didn’t get anything going until the sixth. When we got a couple of runners on base, that gave us more confidence and momentum. When that grand slam pulled us within one, we were pretty confident.”
Glenbard North was coming off its first major hiccup of the spring, dropping three contests to the Redhawks to fall out of first place in the DuPage Valley Conference.
The Panthers lost the opener 10-0 on April 26. Producing just two hits in the game, the Panthers also were let down by their defense, which made five errors in the first four innings.
A day later, North dropped an 8-1 decision and was held to three hits. On Monday, the squad fell by a 10-3 margin. Consitt went 2-for-4 with an RBI in the loss.
“They are good,” Smelko said. “They can roll out a ton of quality arms, one through nine in the batting order can swing it and run and they play good defense. They are a complete team.
“We didn’t play well and they played really well so hats off to them.”
Heading into a three-game series with Wheaton Warrenville South, which began Thursday and continues Friday and Saturday, Glenbard North was 9-3 in the league and one game behind both Naperville Central and Wheaton North.
The Panthers will take on Wheaton North next week.
“We are right there,” Smelko said. “We are fully confident in our pitching staff. We need to play good defense and start swinging the bats like we did the last two innings (Wednesday) to give ourselves a chance.”