By Drake Skleba
For the Bugle 

Tigers 7-run, fifth-inning explosion stuns Oswego in crucial SPC West showdown - round one


Last updated 4/26/2021 at 10:07pm

For many years the Plainfield North Tigers and the Oswego Panthers had many memorable battles on the diamond, battling for the old 10-team Southwest Prairie Conference title.

With the addition of West Aurora and Yorkville at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year, the SPC split into two divisions - the East and the West.

The old SPC rivals the Tigers and the Panthers stayed together as members of the Western Division, however the 2020 IHSA baseball season was wiped out because of the pandemic.

On Monday, the two rivals met in Plainfield for the first time on the diamond as SPC West rivals.

In the first of a huge, three-game SPC West series, North (4-0, 1-0) erupted for seven runs in the bottom of the fifth to erase a 5-1 Panther lead and roll to a 9-6 victory.

The two teams will meet at historic Jackie's Field of Dreams Stadium on the campus of Oswego High School Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. before returning to Plainfield North on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

With Oswego (5-1, 0-1) leading 5-1 in the bottom of the fifth, Tiger junior DH Dylan Evans, in his first official at bat of his varsity career, struck.

Tiger junior Thomas Fitzgerald led off the Tigers fifth by being hit by a pitch.

Evans (1-for-1, 2BB, 2RBI) then launched a line-shot that soared over the left field fence for a two-run blast, pulling the Tigers within 5-3. That put an end to the day for the Panthers senior ace Devin Hoffman (4 2/3 IP, 3R, 4H, 2ER, 4K, 1BB).

"This was my first varsity start of my career," Evans said. "I started in a JV game on Saturday. As soon as I hit it, I knew it was gone. What a great feeling."

Panther reliever Sam Bolander (LP 2IP, 6R, 3H, 0ER, OK, 1BB) fell victim to a total collapse of the Panther defense.

Tiger junior Brandon Bak (1-for-4, R), senior Jake Rock (1-for-3, 2B,R) and senior Alex Brodie (1-for-3, R), all reached base on Panther errors. With the bases loaded, Noah Dutler made the Panthers pay when he ripped a game-tying, two RBI single, pulling the North Siders even at 5-5.

"After Bolander fell behind 1-0 with a curve I was looking for a fastball," Dutler said. "I got the fastball and hit it hard for the game-tying two-run single."

After the Panthers were able to get a force at second on a ball off the bat of senior Adam Smith (1-for-4,RBI), sophomore Ryan Nelson came through with the Tigers game-winner.

Nelson crushed a two-run triple, scoring Dutler and Smith for a 7-5 Tigers lead. Senior Dominick Curcio concluded the Tigers seven-run explosion with a sac-fly for an 8-5 Tigers lead.

"I went up to the plate focusing on hitting the gap," Nelson said. "I was able to hit a line drive for the game-winning triple. We never stopped fighting. Comeback wins are what Tigers baseball is all about."

Senior Dominic Curcio drove home the seventh run of the inning on a sac-fly for an 8-5 Tigers lead after five.

Each team added a run in the sixth. Smith's RBI single in the bottom of the sixth made it 9-6 Tigers.

Senior right-handed pitcher Ryan 'Snaps' Silva was the unsung hero of the huge Tigers victory on Monday.

Relieving starting pitcher senior Ethan Cook with two outs in the three-run Panther first-inning, Silva (1-0) allowed just three runs and five hits in his solid 6 2/3 innings of relief to pick up the win.

"Even when we were down 5-1, we knew we would come back to win," Silva said. "Oswego is our big rival and it was great to beat them today. My curve ball was my best pitch and I went out on the mound hoping to keep us in the game until our bats would lead us to the win. I knew we would come back,"

"Real tough day to play defense with the wind," Plainfield North coach John Darlington said. "Our starting pitcher had trouble as we all did in the early part of the game. Dylan (Evans) hit two home runs in our JV game on Saturday, so I wasn't surprised by his huge home run. Dylan's homer really gave us a spark. Big hits for Noah (Dutler) and Ryan (Nelson) and what a job in relief by Snaps."

Round two will be in Oswego Tuesday.


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