GENEVA – St. Charles North senior pitcher Ankur Shah will be suiting up for Illinois-Chicago next season, and he already sports a glove in the school’s colors of blue and red.
But there’s more than his glove that indicates he’s ready to move to the next level.
Tuesday, Shah threw a complete game and allowed two runs in St. Charles North’s 4-2 win against Geneva. The senior pitcher struck out eight Vikings in a winning effort and allowed four hits and a pair of walks.
Shah’s teammates spotted him an early lead, touching Geneva pitcher Andy Honiotes – who has committed to Miami for next year – for three runs in the second inning. North senior shortstop Tim Misner’s two-run double made it a 3-0 North Stars’ lead.
Honiotes departed after Misner’s hit to finish his day at 12/3 innings of work. After the game, Geneva coach Matt Hahn said it was more of a precautionary exit, as Honiotes has been dealing with arm tightness this season.
Geneva junior pitcher Max Novak limited the North Stars to just one run on three hits and a walk over 51/3 innings, but the early advantage was all Shah needed.
“I thought I did pretty well. I wish I could’ve let go on the freebies – I hit two guys, walked two. But I trust my defense. The defense played a [heck] of a game, and you can’t do much better than that. I just let my defense play,” Shah said.
The Vikings scored two runs off Shah, one in the second on a sacrifice fly by senior third baseman Brock Chenier and one in the fourth on a double off the bat of freshman shortstop Nick Derr. Shah found a groove after Derr’s hit, retiring 10 of the final 11 batters he faced.
The Derr double made it a one-run game, but the North Stars picked up an insurance run on junior right fielder Nick Drawant’s RBI single in the top of the sixth.
“He’s been throwing great for us,” St. Charles North coach Todd Genke said of Shah. “He’s a big game pitcher, and he got the ball in a big game today in the start of a big series with Geneva and he was great. He located his fastball. He threw his breaking ball down in the zone where it needs to be. He competed, and I give him a ton of credit.”
St. Charles North’s win gives it a 1-0 lead in this week’s three-game set between the Upstate Eight Conference River Division rivals. The series could prove critical for both teams, who have not started their seasons the way they had hoped.
After Tuesday’s tilt, St. Charles North boasts an overall record of 7-7 (3-3 in conference), while the defeat sent Geneva to 5-7 (2-5 in conference).
“We’re not off to the start that we’re traditionally used to. And we’re just going to try to figure it out,” Hahn said. “We’ve had a rash of injuries. That’s not an excuse. ... We just hope to get better. Hopefully we’ll peak at the right time of the year. We’ve got a lot of baseball to play.”
St. Charles North saw Tuesday’s victory as the boost it need.
“We have a chance now to go show how good we can be, or we can stay at .500,” Shah said. “But I think from this game we gain a lot of momentum. We’re going to show that we’re here to stay.”