ST. CHARLES – Tuesday was eventful for St. Charles East first baseman Brian Sobieski.
The 6-foot, 190-pound senior survived a pair of collisions, belted a double, stole two bases, and scored three runs to lead the Saints to a 4-0 victory over Batavia in the first game of a three-game Upstate Eight Conference River Division series.
Sobieski scored the first run of the contest in the bottom of the second inning, knocking Bulldog catcher Dino Simoncelli out of the game in the process. Sobieski led off the inning after a walk by Batavia starter Emilio Tenuta (1-1). He stole second and advanced to third when Nick Huskisson struck out on a wild pitch, but reached first safely.
The Saints (7-5, 5-2 UEC River) put on a delayed double steal with Huskisson taking off for second and Sobieski breaking for home as Simoncelli threw toward second. The throw was cut off and the return throw home arrived at about the same time as Sobieski, who said he was trying to slide when he ran into Simoncelli.
“My momentum was taking me forward, so it was an easy thing to go head first – head first slide into home,” Sobieski said. “I was just trying to get the plate.”
Simoncelli wasn’t able to hang on to the ball and the umpire called Sobieski safe and stuck to that decision despite a protest by Batavia (11-2, 5-2) coach Matt Holm.
“The rule is you have to avoid contact,” Holm said. “He lowered his shoulder and went into our kid. There’s a possibility he might have a broken thumb.”
Holm stressed that he did not think there was any malicious intent behind the collision, which brought to his mind Pete Rose running over Ray Fosse to score the winning run in the 1970 MLB All-Star Game.
“I went up to [the umpire] and said, ‘Hey man, I love Pete Rose,’ ” Holm said. “I think it’s a stupid rule. I think you should be able to run everybody over. That’s my type of game, but that’s not the rule. He should have been out and we would have been out of that inning.”
Sobieski walked again leading off the fourth, went to third on a double by Huskisson to deep left-center, and scored on a wild pitch. Huskisson scored one batter later on a very well-executed suicide squeeze bunt by Erik Anderson, who got his second RBI of the game in the sixth with a single that plated Sobieski, who doubled to start the inning.
Sobieski was on the receiving end of a collision in the top of the seventh. Andrew Seigler grounded to the mound with one out and a runner on second. After looking the runner back to second, pitcher Matt Starai threw wide of first into foul territory toward home plate.
“He had less time to make the throw to first,” Sobieski said. “It was off the bag, so I came off the bag and I went to go step on it and [Seigler] was just right there.”
Sobieski took a shoulder to the head as he got the out at first and went to the ground. After being checked out by a trainer, he was able to stay in the game for the final out.
Starai (4-0) allowed only two hits in going the distance – a first-inning single by Micah Coffey and a double by Luke Horton leading off the seventh. He struck out three and walked two.
“They put a lot of balls in play today and the defense really picked it up behind me with a couple of diving plays,” Starai said.
Brannon Barry went horizontal to make a diving catch in right field to end a Batavia threat in the fifth and shortstop Nick Erickson robbed Coffey of a hit with a lunging grab in the sixth.
“The defense was wonderful,” East coach Len Asquini said. “We had those two real nice plays … [and] we made the routine plays, picked everything up. That was great to see.”