Wheaton (Ill.) walks off on Carthage for 6-5 victory in extra innings

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Carol Stream, Ill. - A back and forth ballgame went Wheaton's way on Tuesday night under the lights at Lee Pfund Stadium. Johnny Peltz capped a come from behind effort with a walkoff sacrifice fly in the bottom of the tenth inning to give Wheaton a 6-5 victory in the first of a key three-game CCIW series against the Red Men. Wheaton won its fourth straight game to improve to 16-10 overall and 6-4 in the CCIW. Carthage had its four-game winning streak snapped, falling to 12-10 overall and 5-4 in conference action. The two games will conclude their three-game series on Saturday with a 1 pm doubleheader in Kenosha. Wheaton will next be in action on Friday when the Thunder host Carroll for a 1 pm doubleheader at Lee Pfund Stadium.

Wheaton scored its six runs on 13 hits and committed one defensive error. The Red Men scored five runs on 15 hits without an error. Nick Johnson earned his first victory of the season, throwing four shutout innings and allowing three hits while striking out four hitters. Alex Tinkoff took the loss for Carthage, allowing one run on four hits over two innings of work.

26598 Brett Albaugh (PICTURED RIGHT) got Wheaton off to a quick start on Tuesday night, hammering a two-run home run to right-center field with two outs in the bottom of the first inning to give the hosts a quick 2-0 lead. The home run was Albaugh's team-leading sixth of the season and his fourth in the last five games. Carthage threatened to answer in the top of the second inning, loading the bases with one out against Thunder starter Kyle Ferraro. Ferraro was able to wiggle out of the jam by inducing a double play ball to end the inning. The Red Men would strike in the top of the third inning, leveling the score with two runs.

Taking over in the top of the fourth inning, John Schmitz worked out of a jam in the top of the fourth inning with the help of an outstanding defensive play by John McKenna to get an out at second base on a ball deep in the hole at shortstop. Schmitz would finish the inning with a strikeout to leave Carthage runners on the corners. An outstanding defensive play by Carthage shortstop Jordan Wiegold kept the game tied 2-2, robbing Andy Zuber of an RBI single with a play behind the second base bag in the bottom of the fifth inning. Carthage would respond by taking the lead in the top of the sixth inning on a solo home run to left by Zach Wade to give the Red Men a 3-2 lead.

Peter Newman once again started a two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth inning with a walk and moved around to third on a single by Albaugh. Peltz followed with a line drive single to left field to tie the game at 3-3. After a Carthage pitching change, Ben Brittain singled into right field, scoring Albaugh from second and putting Wheaton ahead 4-3. Once again, Carthage answered, scoring two runs on three hits to chase Schmitz from the game with runners on first and second and no outs. Entering in relief, Nick Johnson struck out the next two hitters before forcing a weak fly out to escape the jam with no further damage and Carthage leading 5-4.

Albaugh sparked a two-out rally in the bottom of the eighth inning with a double to right-center field before being replaced by pinch-runner Noah Ritchie. Following another Carthage pitching change, Peltz lifted a high fly ball behind second base that got lost in the lights and dropped in shallow center field, allowing Ritchie to score the game's tying run. Johnson pitched around a one-out double by Wiegold in the top of the ninth inning, leading to Wheaton's first chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. John McKenna's one-out double was quickly followed by a single into short right field by Zuber. Running on contact, McKenna was cut down at the plate on a perfect throw by Carthage right fielder Graham Wick to help push the game into extra innings.

In the tenth inning, Carthage looked to strike first when Wick was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. After a strikeout, Wick broke for second on a 1-0 pitch only to thrown out stealing by Kyle Trivits for the second out of the inning. Carthage would manage a two-out single but could not score. Jacob Zeller led off the home half of the tenth inning and advanced to second on a walk by Newman. Ritchie's fly out to center field moved Zeller to third base and set the stage for Peltz to drive in Zeller with a sacrifice fly to left field and give Wheaton a 6-5 victory.

Albaugh led the Thunder attack with three hits and two runs scored along with two runs driven in. Peltz collected three hits and drove in three runs. Brittain and Newman also had multi-hit nights with Brittain driving in a run and Newman scoring twice and walking twice.