CAROL STREAM – Infield play was an important part of St. Charles Post 342’s 5-4 victory against Elgin Post 57 on Thursday night in their opening round of the American Legion District11 Tournament .
Elgin fielding miscues started both of St. Charles’ rallies while sparkling plays by Post 342 infielders preserved the team’s narrow lead.
The win advances Post 342 to the next round in the double-elimination tournament when it will face host Wheaton Post 76 at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Wheaton is the only District 11 team to beat St. Charles this season.
Elgin took the lead in the first inning when leadoff batter Nevan Jeske tripled down the first base line. He then scored on Bryan Cynova’s ground out. Post 57 extended its lead to 2-0 in the top of the fourth on three consecutive singles.
St. Charles got on the board in its half of the fourth. John Swiderski opened the inning with a single. Starting pitcher Luke Ludke hit into what looked like a double play. Swiderski was erased at second but Ludke was safe when high throw pulled first baseman Jake Buhmann off the bag. Ludke advance to second on an errant pickoff attempt and scored when Elgin’s shortsop could not handle Carl Formento’s grounder.
Formento then scored on Collin Peterson's double. Peterson scored the go-ahead run on Clayton Schmitt’s single to right.
Elgin tied the game in the top of the fifth, but the damage could have been much worse. Elgin center fielder Andrew Weedman grounded to third baseman Jake Johansmeier. The St. Charles North graduate tagged Buhmann, who was advancing to third, and then threw out Weedman at first to end the inning and the rally.
St. Charles retook the lead in the fifth. Another Elgin error, a walk and a hit batsman loaded the bases for Formento. He laced a double to the left-field gap that plated two more runs.
Elgin threatened again in the sixth. Luke Duffy opened the frame with a triple. Mike Murphy rapped a sharp ground ball to shortstop Andrew Kroncke, who fired the ball to catcher Swiderski to nail Duffy at the plate.
Murphy scored on a Ryan Ford single.
Ludke pitched into the fifth inning when he was lifted for Johansmeier. The Eastern Illinois-bound hurler finished the nine inning game and was credited with the win.