In the bottom of the sixth inning of Tuesday’s DuPage Valley Conference game, Naperville North took a minute to call a meeting on the mound while leading Naperville Central 4-3.
The tying run, Jason Wagner, had led off the inning with a single, while the go-ahead runner and the Redhawks’ top hitter, Bobby McMillen, was digging into the batter’s box.
The discussion was moot because McMillen deposited southpaw Rob Leonard’s first pitch after the meeting over the left-center field fence to rally the Redhawks to a 5-4 victory — which clinched the conference outright.
“The first at-bat they started me off with a first-pitch fastball, which they hadn’t done the whole series,” McMillen said. “Last series they threw me first-pitch curveball every time. He threw me a first-pitch fastball and I jumped on it.”
McMillen has been jumping on pitches all spring for the Redhawks (20-11, 15-5). He’s hitting over .500, and his home run was his sixth of the season and 24th hit for extra bases.
Winning pitcher Patrick Maloney, who settled in to shut out the Huskies over the final four innings, raved about McMillen.
“If I was on the other team, I don’t know if I’d even pitch to him,” he said. “He’s hitting amazing this year and provides such a spark in the lineup. He’s one of the most feared hitters in the DVC, if not the most feared.”
Naperville North (13-15, 8-11) fell behind 3-1, but rallied in the top of the third inning. Danny Riley, Mike Laurenzo and Alex Garon all singled before Mark Khoury came inches away from striking out, and then inches away from hitting a grand slam. Khory took a borderline pitch just off the outside corner before blasting a drive off the left-field fence for a three-run double.
“I thought it was a great high school game with great atmosphere and great defensive plays,” Huskies coach Carl Hunckler said. “What it came down to was that they had a clutch hit that cleared the fence and we were short one foot, or otherwise we have that extra run as well.”
Maloney settled down after Khoury’s big hit, allowing just two infield singles over the final four innings to get the victory.
“Pat Maloney battled for us,” Redhawks coach Mike Stock said. “Pat’s an emotional kid who has had a great year and this was a big game and it didn’t go smooth the whole time, but he battled like he has all year.”
The teams will wrap up their series at North Central Collge at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday.