ST. CHARLES – Matt Starai turned in a sterling pitching performance in his first start of the season and some St. Charles East bats that slumbered during Tuesday’s season-opening loss to West Aurora came alive Wednesday as the Saints downed Fremd, 7-4, in nonconference baseball action.
Starai, a senior right-hander, struck out 10, walked no one, and allowed only four hits in 5 2/3 innings of work.
“It felt good to be out on the mound for the first time today,” Starai said. “I wanted to get ahead and attack hitters early. I didn’t want to fall behind and walk anyone. I just wanted to go out and attack really.”
Starai did that, striking out the first five batters he faced. He picked up seven strikeoutsthe first time through the Vikings’ order. Five of those were called third strikes.
“We went to the curveball for strikeouts today,” Starai said. “I feel comfortable with my curveball. It’s my strikeout pitch. I like to go to it a lot when I get two strikes.”
The only downside to all the strikeouts for Starai was that his pitch count reached 90 in the sixth inning, prompting East coach Len Asquini to remove him from the game.
“Super” was how Asquini summed up Starai’s performance.
“He was aggressive to the zone,” Asquini said. “He had some good stuff working today and it looked like he had them guessing a little bit.”
All three runs allowed by Starai were unearned as the Saints made four errors behind him.
“We were very, very giving on defense today,” Asquini said. “We gave them the runs.”
East was coasting with a 5-0 lead going into the top of the fourth, but three errors in that inning allowed the Vikings to score a pair of runs.
“The defense struggled a little bit today, so I wanted to pick them up and put them on my back,” Starai said.
Reliever Mike Boehmer also gave the Saints’ defense a rest. He used strikeouts to get the final four outs of the game and picked up a save in the process. Boehmer gave up a run on a pair of hits in the seventh, but it was another defensive miscue – a passed ball – that allowed that run to score.
The Saints had 11 hits in the game, including a two-run homer by Nick Huskisson in the third off Fremd starter Eric Gile.
“I saw a lot of fastballs,” Huskisson said. “I looked to capitalize early in the count and put a good swing on one. I probably had a little wind on my side and got it to go out, luckily.”
The light breeze probably played little if any role in Huskisson’s shot, which cleared the left-field fence easily to the left of the scoreboard.
Huskisson had a pair of hits for the Saints, as did Joe Hoscheit and Jack Dellostritto. Brian Sobieski plated a pair for East with a sacrifice fly and a double.
“It was nice to see the ball drop for us,” Asquini said. “We hit the ball hard and squared it up a bunch of times and it produced runs for us, where yesterday, I thought we still hit the ball hard quite a few times, but it was right at somebody or wasn’t run-producing.”
The Saints host Prairie Ridge at 1 p.m. today.