GENEVA – The St. Charles East baseball team didn’t ease into the postseason in the least, needing to wrestle free from a tied game in the late innings to avoid an early upset.
But on a day when fellow Upstate Eight Conference River co-champion Batavia was ousted in the first round of the playoffs, the Saints aren’t about to grumble in the aftermath of their 2-1 win against Glenbard East in Thursday’s IHSA Class 4A Geneva Regional semifinal.
“That’s what happens in the playoffs,” East senior left fielder Joe Hoscheit said. “We know we’re not going to play a perfect game every day. We have to fix those mistakes, take better approaches at the plate.”
East (23-11) advances to face the winner of today’s Geneva-Glenbard West game in Saturday’s regional final.
The fourth-seeded Saints followed what has been their typical recipe for success this season – quality starting pitching and just enough offense to take advantage.
East cut it close this time, with a pair of doubles by first baseman Brian Sobieski looming large. The second came with the score tied at 1 in the bottom of the sixth inning as his line shot to left field scored Hoscheit from second base.
Hoscheit had started the inning with his third straight single of the game before stealing second base.
“He threw four fastballs in a row,” Sobieski said of Glenbard East pitcher Nick Vichio. “The last one that he threw was high. I knew he wasn’t going to throw a fifth one, try to change my eyes. He went in with a changeup, kind of left it up.”
Earlier, Sobieski’s opposite field double to right-center paid off in the bottom of the second when second baseman Jack Dellostritto singled to center, scoring Sobieski for a 1-0 East lead.
“He got some good pitches and hit those things hard just like he’s supposed to do,” East coach Len Asquini said of Sobieski. “They pitched him a little in, he hit it to left field, a little out, and he hit it to right-center field. It was wonderful to see. Big for the senior to step up and get that done.”
The 13th seeded Rams – whose dugout was loud and boisterous throughout the game – tied the score at 1 in the top of the fourth, and had Saints ace Matt Starai (8-1) in trouble with the score still tied in the top of the sixth.
Glenbard East shortstop Danny Ryan notched a one-out double and, after Starai fell behind in the count to Vichio, the Saints intentionally walked him, putting two aboard with one out.
Rams cleanup hitter DJ Spears then worked the count full but was rung up on strikes on a borderline pitch.
One flyout later, and Starai (three hits allowed, 10 strikeouts) and the Saints were breathing easier.
“I thought Matt made some big pitches in big situations today when he was in a little bit of trouble, and he got out of those,” Asquini said. “That was big.”
Hoscheit and Sobieski accounted for five of the seven hits on the day for East. Right fielder Brannon Barry supplied a one-out double in the fourth but was stranded.
Sobieski, East’s catcher in the past, is having a big offensive season this spring while playing first base.
“He’s really shown improvement from last year, and just shown how good he can be,” Hoscheit said.