AURORA - Waubonsie Valley could exhale around 6:52 p.m., when Chris Galovic walked off the mound to shake coach Dan Fezzuoglio's hand near the third-base line.
Waubonsie lost 26 games last year, and a few games just like this already this season. But with two on and two outs, and clinging to a one-run lead, the Warriors did not come undone.
Galovic, who had already walked two batters in the seventh inning, whipped a 2-2 pitch past Chris Ciccone, South Elgin's number-three hitter, for a called third strike. That closed out a 4-3 Waubonsie victory on Wednesday night in Aurora.
"(Galovic) had to make the big pitch, and he did," Fezzuoglio said. "We'll take it. We'll take it any way we can get it."
Ultimately, Waubonsie (3-6, 2-1 Upstate Eight Conference) hung on for its second victory over South Elgin (1-2, 1-2 UEC) this week.
In doing so, the Warriors played with a certain sharpness, and pushed back memories of 4-2 losses to both Naperville North and Naperville Central earlier this season.
"We're finally catchin' the breaks that we need to be catchin'," Waubonsie catcher Zac Volland said.
That trend started early, as the Warriors scored three runs in the first inning, the critical shot coming on Galovic's two-run double to deep center.
Adam LeRoy (1-2) earned the victory by lasting six innings, giving up three runs on five hits. The lefty hit two batters, and walked two more who would eventually score, but he kept South Elgin off-balance enough by working his fastball and changeup inside and out.
Still leading 4-3 in the fifth, LeRoy's catcher bailed him out. With two on and two out, Volland blocked a curveball in the dirt. Ciccone, the lead runner, tried to take an extra base but Volland picked up the loose ball and made the quick throw to third to end the threat.
"It was instinct," Volland said, "that I needed to get an out, to help out my pitcher, (to) help out my team."
And with that pivot play, Waubonsie again held off South Elgin's momentum, and may have seized some of its own - though St. Charles North, one of the state's top-ranked teams, looms for a two-game set scheduled to begin today.
Waubonsie Valley 4, South Elgin 3
SE 010 110 0 - 3
WV 310 000 0 - 4
2B - South Elgin: Fitzpatrick, Meuser, Daker. Waubonsie - Galovic. WP - LeRoy (1-2). LP - Scaffidi (1-1). S - Galovic (1). Strikeouts - South Elgin: Davis 1. Waubonsie: 5 (LeRoy 4, Galovic 1).