DOWNERS GROVE – Ray Greco’s sixth at-bat of the game was by far the best.
The Downers Grove North senior stepped into the batter’s box with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning and singled to drive home the winning run in the Trojans’ wild 18-17 win against Hinsdale Central on Friday.
“I was all fired up once my teammate [Emil Baftirovski] got to third base on an overthrow,” Greco said of his final at-bat. “He threw me a first-pitch curveball in the dirt and I laid off, so I knew he was going to come back with a strike and I just had to wait on it.”
Baftirovski had singled and then took third when a throw from center field intended to get him out after taking the turn at first base sailed out of the yard.
That was just one of several remarkable happenings in the game:
• Hinsdale Central’s starting pitcher lasted just one-third of an inning.
• The first inning alone took nearly an hour to play. The Red Devils plated five runs in the top half of the frame and North responded with 11 runs in its half of the inning.
• An error and three wild pitches led to four of North’s first-inning runs.
• Brendan Shanahan made the last out of the sixth inning. He reached on a fielder’s choice by the second baseman on a double play ball. The relay throw from second base hit the facade of the visitors’ dugout and bounced back into play. At the coach’s urging, Shanahan trotted to second base, but because the ball never actually left play it was live, so when the first baseman threw to the second basemen and he applied the tag, the inning was over.
• Every spot in the order for both teams produced at least one run. Thirteen of the 18 batting positions for both teams were responsible for two or more runs each.
Players and coaches from both teams were left searching for a way to describe the game, which elevated North’s record to 7-1 overall and 4-0 in the West Suburban Silver.
“It was definitely different,” North third baseman Myles Farley said. “It was just one of those days where everything was falling. All the little bloop base hits and little bleeders were finding holes and finding the grass out in the outfield. We battled all day long, and that’s really why we won the game.”
Brett Pyburn pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the seventh inning and earned the win thanks to Greco’s hit.
“This one was a game for the ages,” Central head coach Jason Ziemer said. “I’ve been around the game for a long time, and this game was crazy. I’ve never been part of a game like this.”
“It was just one of those things of who could survive, and fortunately for us we were able to leave the yard with a win,” North coach Chad Isaacson said.
The teams played in another high-scoring affair a day later with Central winning 16-6.