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Baseball: Richards shows some late-inning magic vs. Shepard

Jim Wujcik Richards drives two runs against Shepard. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media

Jim Wujcik, of Richards, drives in two runs against Shepard. | Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 17, 2013 6:28AM



Richards coach Brian Wujcik could be forgiven for thinking “here we go again” during Monday’s game against Shepard.

His Bulldogs have had a tendency to blow leads late in games. That’s what they did against the Astros, a South Suburban Red rival.

Richards led 4-0 after five innings, only to see Shepard score six runs in the sixth inning.

This time, however, Richards answered, scoring three runs in its half of the sixth to pull out a 7-6 win.

“If baseball games were five innings long, we’d be 14-2,” said Wujcik, whose squad improved to 6-11 overall, 3-3 in conference. “Something seems to happen to us late in games. We let teams get back in.”

Jimmy Wujcik’s walk to start the home half of the sixth ignited the Bulldogs. Shane Mills’ RBI double cut the margin to 6-5, and Charlie Zeschke followed with a run-scoring single that tied the game at 6.

Shepard coach Frank DiFoggio then elected to intentionally walk Jake Kendryna to load the bases for Harley Miller, who was hit by a pitch that forced in the game-winning run.

The game was called at that point because of darkness and sloppy field conditions.

“The home-plate umpire told both teams during the inning that we’re not going to make it seven innings,” Wujcik said. “He said if the game-winning run scores, he was going to call the game.”

Richards grabbed a 3-0 lead in the fourth on an RBI single by Miller (2-for-3) and two-run double by Wujcik (2-for-3).

The Bulldogs extended their lead to 4-0 on a run-scoring single by Kendryna, who started on the mound and breezed through five innings, scattering four singles.

The sixth inning, however, was a disaster for the right-hander. It started with a leadoff walk to pinch-hitter Bobby Doherty and a costly error moments later allowed one run to score. Big at-bats from Jeremy Dryier (two-run single), Brendan Herman and Matt Schmeski (RBI singles) and Jake Hart (sacrifice fly) helped Shepard take a 6-4 advantage.

The Astros (3-8, 1-5), however, couldn’t hold the lead.

“We’re hurting right now,” DiFoggio said. “We’re not playing with confidence. We’re a talented team, but I just can’t describe us.”

Shepard starter Jack Garetto went five innings, allowing four runs on eight hits.

“Jack pitched really well,” DiFoggio said.

Zeschke, who was 3-for-3 with a walk, three runs and an RBI, is confident the Bulldogs will cure what has ailed them late in games.

“Sometimes we let up a little bit and allow runs,” he said. “That’s something we’re going to work on in practice: staying focused.”



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