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Early momentum fizzles in Downers North’s sectional final loss

North meets, tops South in sectional semifinal clash

NAPERVILLE – Matt Zabloudil had a simple plan for his first at-bat of Saturday’s sectional championship baseball game against Neuqua Valley.

“I went up there, I was like, ‘I’m going to help out my pitcher,’” the Downers Grove North senior said.

Zabloudil helped out in a big way with a three-run home run in the second inning that gave the Trojans a 3-1 lead. However, the momentum would not last as the Trojans fell, 12-4, to the host Wildcats.

“I knew that the wind was blowing out, but I was just looking to put the ball in play,” Zabloudil said. “We had a guy on third base and my main objective was to drive him in. I just got lucky with that wind blowing out. I wasn’t thinking home run, just making contact.”

North took a 4-1 lead in the third inning on Troy Southard’s sacrifice fly. Neuqua tied the game at 4-4 with three runs in the bottom of the third, took the lead for good with four runs in the fourth and locked it up with three more scores in the sixth.

With the wind blowing out to center field all game long, Neuqua Valley pounded out nine extra-base hits, including a triple and home run. Conversely, North struggled to hit the ball up into the swirling wind, recording four outfield outs in the game.

“Their kid did a great job,” North coach Chad Isaacson said of Neuqua’s pitcher. “He got caught a little bit in the second and third inning, but he was able to right the ship. He got the ball downstairs and they continued to add on after that, and we were in chase mode a little bit.”

North had runners at first and second with no outs in the third, but Southard’s sac fly to score Connor Kopach was the only run the Trojans (22-12) could muster, and they had just one more baserunner the rest of the game.

“The wind was a huge factor,” Zabloudil said. “If the ball got up, they were going to pound it deep, and you saw that today. It was a matter of they hit and we didn’t get the chances.”

North tops South

Talk about an exclamation point.

David Henson blasted a three-run home run as part of a five-run inning as Downers Grove North’s baseball team topped crosstown-foe Downers Grove South, 8-0, on May 29 in a semifinal game of the Class 4A Neuqua Valley sectional.

The Mustangs mustered four hits but couldn’t push a run across. They had the bases loaded with no out in the bottom of the second but couldn’t score. North responded with three runs in the top of the third with RBIs from Joe Provenzano and Southard. Jack Goergen plated another run on an error.

Joe Becht went 2-for-4 and Alex Galik and Matt Zinnecker each had a hit for South, which finished the year 30-7.

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