Davenport North baseball coach Cory Wachal summed up this past week as a "roller coaster," and that would be an apt description.
Riding high after sweeping Mississippi Athletic Conference co-leader Pleasant Valley this past Monday, the Wildcats were brought back to earth hard three days ago when they dropped a pair at Clinton.
Hosting city-rival Central Friday evening at Ken Kaul Field, North put itself back at a high point as it swept the Blue Devils, holding on for a 5-3 win in the opener and rolling to a 15-2, five-inning victory in the nightcap.
"We played well against PV; Clinton, we were a little short on pitching, but we just didn't play the way we wanted to, and Clinton took advantage," said Wachal, whose 6-6 club resumed play this week after an 11-day layoff due to a potential COVID-19 exposure that turned out to be negative.
"It was nice to see the way the kids bounced back (Friday)."
After fending off a late-inning rally by Central (1-15, 1-13 MAC) in the first game, the Wildcats wasted no time in getting going in the second contest.
The hosts sent 13 batters to the plate in the first two innings, scoring eight times in the bottom of the first and seven more in the second. Senior center fielder Jack West had both of his hits and all three of his RBIs in the opening frame.
"Clinton took it to us, but we just kept grinding," West said. "Game one, we got a little complacent in the middle innings and let Central hang around, so it was nice to come out with two big innings and put it away early."
With Blake Gaskey, Nolan Mosier and Cooper Keimig each adding two RBIs in the nightcap, the pitching trio of starter Griffin Leibold and relievers Carter Bush and Jacob Lechvar teamed up for a four-hitter with seven strikeouts.
Four of those were by Leibold, who earned the win after pitching a scoreless seventh inning in the opener to save starting hurler Gaskey's victory.
"Pitching is going to carry us in the postseason," Wachal said. "It was nice to see all of our pitchers throwing strikes."
In the opener, the Wildcats also struck first with a two-run opening inning as three errors fueled the fire. North made it 3-0 in the last of the second on a two-out RBI double by leadoff man Jayden Noriega (3-for-4).
"We're geared more towards the postseason now, so it was tough to drop two (Wednesday), especially after beating PV twice," Noriega said. "We just had to forget about it and bounce back."
After Central closed the gap to 3-1 in the top of the fourth when Aidan Fitzgibbon doubled and scored on Ever Jens' sacrifice fly, North got that run back in its half of the inning on an RBI fielder's choice by Leibold.
An inning later, the Wildcats made it 5-1 on an RBI single by senior catcher Donovan Weaver (2-for-2), which as it turned out proved to be a crucial insurance run.
The Blue Devils battled back for two sixth-inning runs on Jens' RBI fielder's choice and a Tim Johnson sacrifice fly. In the top of the seventh, Central got the tying run to the plate when Adam Burke worked a two-out walk, but Leibold struck out Carlos Terrell to put out the fire.
"Coming off Clinton, we had some guys who were hitting hard and some who were not," Weaver said. "The first game, we needed those guys to hit, and carry that over to the second game."
With four more MAC games remaining before starting postseason, North hopes for a smoother ride into the playoffs.
"We're focused on getting the team ready for the postseason at this point," Wachal said, "but at the same time, there's still four games left for us to play."