One swing by Connor Gurnik summed up the goal of every hitter in Thursday's baseball game between Naperville Central and Waubonsie Valley.
With a howling wind blowing out, Gurnik was the only player able to loft a shot for a home run. And it was a big one.
The senior shortstop's fourth-inning grand slam powered Naperville Central to a 5-3 DuPage Valley Conference victory over the visiting Warriors.
A bases-loaded single by Kyle Bennington pulled the Redhawks (10-5, 6-4) within 2-1, and then Gurnik launched his go-ahead home run over the left-field fence.
Waubonsie Valley starter Alex Schram, who struck out seven in five innings, did a brilliant job getting the Warriors (8-7, 4-6) out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the third inning but couldn't duplicate the magic in the fourth.
"We had a feeling we were going to get something at the plate," Gurnik said. "Someone just had to come up with a hit. I just relaxed and put a good swing on it."
The Warriors got a run back on Chris Ralph's RBI single in the fifth, but winning pitcher Tyler Brinker kept it right there. Ryan Eiermann was untouchable in two innings of relief for the save, striking out six and hitting a batter.
"We were kind of able to wiggle out of it in the third inning," said Waubonsie Valley coach Bryan Acevedo. "Doing it twice is pretty difficult. Connor Gurnik, as we know from the last two-and-a-half years, is a real good baseball player. They were one pitch better than us."
Waubonsie Valley broke out to a 2-0 second-inning lead on Jacob Vandrie's sacrifice fly and Matt Oliver's run-scoring single.
"We're relying on a couple guys too much and we need some other guys to step up," said Redhawks coach Mike Stock. "It was frustrating the one inning, but give Connor credit there. It was great to see it jump off his bat."
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