St. Charles East senior right-hander Matt Starai helped vault the Saints into today’s IHSA Class 4A St. Charles East Sectional baseball championship game against Wheaton North with a three-hit shutout in Wednesday’s semifinal against Lake Park. He needed 74 pitches to defeat the Lancers, and faced just one batter over the minimum courtesy of three Saints double plays. Equally efficient with his words for this week’s edition of the Weekend Chit-Chat, Starai discussed his afternoon with Kane County Chronicle sports reporter Kevin Druley. The following is an edited transcript:
Fastballs down in the zone have helped you all season, no matter the situation on the bases. What’s the key?
It’s happened that way all year. I trust my defense behind me. They work hard every day, day in and day out, to get better and make plays. I know that if I get a guy on, if I get a ground ball right away that they can erase that really quickly.
How much did familiarity play a role against Lake Park after you beat the same lineup earlier this season?
We played them earlier in the year and beat them, 5-1. It was nice to know that we could beat them again. It wasn’t just a string of luck.
Coach [Len Asquini] has said you’ve grown stronger as the game goes on.
I like to get settled in early, just kind of establish a zone. Then they attacked a lot of fastballs [Wednesday], and I didn’t really have to work hard throughout the first couple innings. It just allowed me to save what I had left in the tank for later on.
Are you ever rattled when the offense produces a big inning and you’re made to wait in the dugout a little longer?
It really doesn’t affect my rhythm at all. I know if we get a big inning, that means that I get a chance to go out there and shut it down and really shut down their game completely. If we get a couple runs, and then I shut them down, then we get to get another chance to get more runs up there and then shut them down again. And then their confidence is just gone after that.
So you really felt locked in with your delivery and the speed of the game?
Yeah, it’s felt really good all year. Even if somebody does get on, I know that I can get one of those double plays. ... Our guys are really good behind me and they work really hard and they’re confident that they can make a play, too, when they need to.