PBB: Noggle wins playoff opener for DP with walk-off HR in 7th

Dos Pueblos' Nick Noggle approaches home plate following his game-winning home run in the bottom of the seventh inning of a CIF Division 2 playoff game.

Dos Pueblos’ Nick Noggle approaches home plate following his game-winning home run in the bottom of the seventh inning  of Friday’s CIF Division 2 playoff opener at Scott O’Leary Field.

Nick Noggle finished Dos Pueblos’ CIF Division 2 baseball playoff opener with a bang on Friday.

Noggle belted a walk-off solo homer with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, lifting the Chargers to a dramatic 5-4 victory over Villa Park at Scott O’Leary Field. Noggle’s blast over the left-field fence came after Villa Park tied the score with a two-run homer by Mark Van Skike with two outs in the top of the seventh.

“It was change-up right over the middle of the plate,” Noggle said of the pitch from Villa Park starter Anthony Navarro. “It was pretty similar to the fast ball; it didn’t move a lot. I saw the fast ball in the last at-bat. I said, ‘OK.’ I saw it coming in; it was similar to a pitch I hit in practice the other day: right over the middle; hit the same spot. I just waited back and I wasn’t too eager which was kind of nice. I usually get ahead of myself and roll over (the ball) because my weight is not back far enough.”

As soon as he hit it, the DP dugout erupted and everyone ran out to greet Noggle as he arrived at home plate.

“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had,” he said with a big smile.

The senior catcher got the hero’s treatment from teammates — two water coolers dumped on his head.

“He had a great game,” DP coach Nick Katzenstein said of Noggle, who drove in DP’s first run with a double to the left-field fence in the first inning. “In the third, they pitched around him a little bit — four straight balls that were out of the zone. Why they pitched to him there in that situation (the bottom of the seventh), I don’t know. He got his pitch.”

Noggle’s younger, Chris, also played a huge part in the win. Villa Park had just cut DP’s lead to 3-2 in the sixth when pitcher Anthony Navarro hit a two-out, two-run homer off DP starter Darby Naughton.

In the bottom of the inning, John Wetzel hit a lead-off single to right and was lifted for pinch-runner Drake Hawn. Chris Noggle laid down a bunt to advance the runner, but Villa Park’s third baseman threw Hawn out at second base. Undaunted by the failed sacrifice, Noggle took off on the first pitch to Michael Boelter and reached second safely with a stolen base. Boelter flew out to left for the second out and Gio Macias followed with a single to left, with Noggle sprinting home for a 4-2 lead.

“That steal was huge,” said Nick Noggle of his brother’s aggressive play. “He’s really fast, probably the fastest guy on the team.”

On Chris scoring from second base: “His head’s down all the way; he was going to score, no doubt about it,” Nick Noggle said. “It was great having him on second base versus anyone else.”

The Chargers mob Noggle as he reaches home plate.

The Chargers mob Noggle as he reaches home plate.

Katzenstein didn’t hesitate to send Chris Noggle after the failed sacrifice. “I know he can run a little bit,” he said. “We were fortunate they didn’t cover the bag. We were able to take that and then (we got) the big hit by Gio.

“You got to send him in that situation,” he added about the steal. “I don’t care what it is, make them play catch. That was a big run for us, a big insurance run. We don’t get that we’re still playing.”

The Channel League-champion Chargers (16-14) jump out to 3-0 lead after three innings. Nick Noggle doubled in Macias in the first inning.

“The double was a super big deal. Scoring in the first inning, we usually come out on top,” Noggle said.

In the third, Colter Nisbet ripped a liner to right and the Villa Park outfielder misplayed the ball when it hit the ground. The ball rolled to the fence, allowing Luke Coffey to score the second run and Colter to advance to third. Noggle drew a walk and Jesse Speier executed a squeeze bunt, with Colter dashing home.

Naughton held a potent Villa Park (19-9) lineup scoreless until the sixth, pitching out of jams in the third and fifth innings. The Spartans’ dugout was loud when they were batting, but it didn’t seem to bother DP’s steady sophomore hurler.

“Darby was able to settle in,” Nick Noggle said. “It didn’t affect him that much, which was so important.”

On Naughton’s pitching performance: “Through five it was a gem, honestly,” said Noggle. “He didn’t allow any runs, that’s the bottom line. There were a few walks and he hit a couple of guys; it was a little shaky but in the end he did a great job.”

Naughton gave up a one-out single to the Spartans’ Dustin Hollinger in the sixth. He struck out Brady Howell before Navarro jump on a pitch and sent over the left-field fence to make a 3-2 game.

After DP scored that huge insurance run in the sixth, Boelter came on to pitch the seventh. He walked Villa Park lead-off hitter Evan Walsh before getting the next two batters on flyouts to first and right field. The 6-3, 230-pound Van Skike followed with a booming homer to tie the score. The next batter flew out to second base to end the inning.

Noggle said the DP dugout was quiet when the players came in for the bottom of the seventh. But these Chargers have found ways to win ballgames all season.

“They got some heart, they’ve shown it all year long,” Katzenstein said of his players. “They just fight to the end. They never seem to get that up-against-the-fence kind of feeling.

“We could have easily folded after the home run tied it. We had two outs and the guy makes one bad pitch and Nick Noggle makes him pay for it. It’s just one guy picking up another guy. And that’s kind of the way it’s been for us.”

The Chargers play top-seeded San Clemente in the second round  on Tuesday. The site will be determined by a coin-flip on Saturday.

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