There’s no doubt Naperville North junior Luke Brennan stomached some pre-game jitters during Friday’s DuPage Valley Conference series finale against Glenbard North in Naperville.
Brennan walked Nolan Jasinski to start the game.
While Jasinski would come around to score on an Alex Barrett single later in the inning, the Panthers wouldn’t score again as Brennan went the distance in a 3-1 victory.
“I thought today was huge for him,” Huskies coach Carl Hunckler said. “It was his first varsity start and I thought what we saw today was the kid we expected to see.”
Brennan pitched to contact, striking out only one while walking three. He gave up four hits, and allowed one hit over his final six innings, a single by losing pitcher Eric Orze.
“I felt all three of my pitches were working for most of the time,” Brennan said. “My changeup and my curve were really on and whenever I struggled I went to my fastball and got ground balls.”
Naperville North (6-4, 2-1) rallied in the bottom of the first inning thanks to some clutch two-out hitting from Alex Garon. Ryan Krainz singled and John Sagen walked to start the rally but appeared to be left stranded in scoring position until Garon lined a single the opposite way to make it 2-1.
“We had a strikeout for the second out so I had to pick up my teammates,” Garon said. “I just looked to go the opposite way. I got a pitch and was able to come up big.”
Glenbard North (7-6, 1-2) was able to stay in the game because Orze scattered seven hits while only walking one.
“Eric did a nice job,” Panthers coach Rich Smelko said. “We just couldn’t get anything going offensively for him. Credit to their guy for keeping us off-balance. We just weren’t squaring up enough baseballs today.”
The Huskies added an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth. The rally started with a two-out single from Sam Siebers. He was balked to second, stole third and then came home on Sam Lascala’s infield single.
“Our three runs today were a great job by our kids with two outs,” Hunckler said. “Garon in the first and then Lascala after fighting off some pitches to get the hit to score the other run. A really great job of moving the ball around.”
It allowed the Huskies to win their first series of the season, an important accomplishment if they want to contend for a conference title.
“Every win is an important one in conference,” Brennan said. “We were able to come out and get two wins against a good team.”