Osbourn Park senior second baseman Jeffery Neufang stepped to the plate in the bottom of the sixth with two outs and his team trailing by one. The 5-foot-7 dynamo watched the first pitch pass for a ball but the fastball he coveted followed, and Neufang clobbered a two-run shot over the center field fence.
The go-ahead home run capped a stellar night for Neufang and propelled Osbourn Park past Centreville on Wednesday, 10-7.
Neufang went 4-for-4 with three RBI for the Yellow Jackets, finishing a triple away from the cycle.
“I wasn’t necessarily looking for a home run. I wanted to get on base for our No. 3 and No. 4 hitters,” Neufang said of his sixth-inning bomb. “All the credit goes to my coach and practice for my hitting tonight.”
When Yellow Jackets Coach Jack Ferrick took the helm last season, he didn’t know what to expect from the diminutive Neufang. But after a solid showing in last season’s regional playoffs, Neufang has become a weapon in the No. 2 spot.
“I gave him a couple opportunities and he grabbed a job in the lineup,” Ferrick said of Neufang’s strong finish to last season. “He went from near the bottom of the roster to being one of our biggest contributors.”
Osbourn Park (2-1) registered 13 hits in Wednesday’s win and held a 6-2 lead after four innings. In the top of the fifth, it almost unraveled for the Yellow Jackets as Centreville (1-1) scored five runs to regain the lead without picking up an out. The Yellow Jackets gave up four hits and walked two batters in the rough inning.
With runners on first and second, senior Saul Aguilera entered the game for Osbourn Park and picked up two groundouts and a flyout to end the threat.
“I expected to pitch the sixth and seventh, but I didn’t think I would have to come into the game in the fifth,” Aguilera said. “My tempo was good and my defense had my back.”
Aguilera pitched three solid innings in relief, throwing one strikeout and not yielding a hit.
Senior Jack Shepard went 3-for-3 at the plate with a home run and five RBI. It was a significant offensive improvement for the Yellow Jackets, who mustered just one run in a loss to Hylton on Friday.
“We knew we played poorly against Hylton and we really wanted to step it up against this team and play well,” Neufang said.