ST. CHARLES – Michael Vazquez wouldn't let the at-bat die.
The Glenbard North second baseman locked into an extensive battle of pure will against St. Charles East relief pitcher Zach Clodi in the fifth inning Thursday.
After 14 pitches, fouling off 11 pitches on an 0-2 count, Vazquez prevailed for a two-run single in the fifth to help the Panthers outlast the Saints 6-5 on Thursday. The win helped Glenbard North avoid the sweep, and earn its first win in the DuKane Conference for the season.
"I was getting tired; he was getting tired," Vazauez said.
The Panthers' lead was pushed to five, and the hit total favored Glenbard North 7-3 at that point.
"It was all coming down to who's going to win it," Vazquez continued. "[I] just stayed calm and try to hit a ball hard; that's all you can do."
The Panthers (7-4, 1-2) needed every bit of the cushion. With Glenbard North holding a seemingly comfortable 6-3 lead entering the seventh inning, the Saints made an inspiring rally.
With one out Saints senior Ben Testo reached on an error and Drew Parrine pounded an RBI double. Gino Cerrone, who hit an RBI sacrifice fly in the fifth, followed with an RBI double of his own to pull the Saints within one run.
Clay Conn popped out, but Tommy Schroeder gutted out a walk to put two on base for slugger Kyle Hayes, who hit a solo home run in the first inning.
The pressure, especially considering Hayes' pedigree, was mounting.
"[I just wanted to] stay calm," Salamone said of his mindset with Hayes at the plate. "Just throw strikes and let my fielders make the plays."
Hayes hit a dribbler to third base, and the game ended on a fielder's choice.
Panthers' starting pitcher Spencer Salamone, in his second start of the season, survived the complete-game effort, surrendering eight hits and striking out six.
"It felt good," Salamone said of the team bouncing back. "Our first conference win [is] always nice."
Saints starting pitcher Conner Dunfee lasted 3.2 innings, surrendering three runs on four hits and struck out three. Dunfee at times struggled with command, hitting two batters and allowing four walks.
Consecutive walks in the second inning came back to bite him, as a wild pitch allowed runners to advance to second and third. Panthers left fielder Angelo Cusumano doubled in a run to tie it at one.
In the fourth, Glenbard North tacked on two more runs off of singles from Cusumano and Anthony Ferreri before he was pulled for Clodi.
"Consistency is a big thing for me," Dunfee said. "Some games I can come out and do really well; other games, too many walks. I got to get that under control because that's hurting my team out there."
"They fought hard," Dunfee said. "I was just disappointed I couldn't put up more zeros [on the scoreboard] for them."
Cole Conn hit a solo home run in the sixth to round out the Saints (7-2-1, 2-1) scoring.
"We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole," said Saints coach Len Asquini, who won his 400th career game as a coach earlier this week. "And, didn't have enough to get out of it...hopefully it's a lesson learned for our guys."