ST. CHARLES – If you’re going to be compared to a former Major League Baseball player, you can’t do much better than being compared to Willie Mays.
Tuesday at St. Charles North High School, Anthony Bragg fielded, hit, and even ran like the Giants’ Hall of Famer to lead St. Charles Post 342 to a 5-1 victory over Hampshire Post 680 in American Legion baseball.
Bragg was 3 for 3 at the plate with a pair of doubles and three RBIs. He singled home the first two runs of the game in the bottom of the first inning, doubled and scored in the fourth, and doubled to drive in a run in the sixth. The first baseman also stole a base and made a couple of nice over-the-shoulder catches of foul pops.
“He’s been playing very well the last two weeks,” Post 342 coach Dale Wilderspin said. “He’s picked it up with the bat and defensively he’s been really, really good. He made two catches over the shoulder tonight. He almost looked like Willie Mays out there. He’s very comfortable making that play.”
Bragg said it’s a tough play to practice.
“It’s really just kind of an instinct thing,” he said. “You kind of run over there and throw your mitt up and hope it lands in there.”
Bragg graduated from Geneva High School this spring. He’s one of six former Vikings on the Post 342 roster, which is dominated by past and present St. Charles North players.
“You’re kind of getting to know your rivals,” Bragg said. “It’s kind of cool getting to know them, talking with them, even talking about games that have happened in the past. It’s a good experience.”
Bragg’s Geneva classmate Mitch Endriukaitis plated him in the first inning with a bloop double down the right field line to give St. Charles (12-5 overall, 4-2 District 11) a quick 3-0 lead.
“That’s something we need to do,” Wilderspin said. “Obviously, you get tired of chasing after awhile and the last few games we’ve had that problem where we’ve gotten behind early and it makes it tough as far as being aggressive on the bases and those types of things.”
Those early runs would be the only support Post 342 pitchers Collin Peterson and P.J. O’Brien would need. Peterson pitched the first 3 2/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits. O’Brien came on with the bases loaded and two outs and St. Charles protecting a 3-1 lead in the fourth. He got a soft liner to Bragg on his first pitch to end the threat.
“We’ve been trying to get Collin out [on the mound] for the last couple weeks,” Wilderspin said. “He’s got a little soreness in his arm, so it was nice for him to get out and throw three or four innings and shake some of the rust off. P.J. came in and did a nice job. He’s been doing a good job for us all season.”
Kyle Carbone took the loss for Hampshire (1-3 Division 11), but pitched well after the first inning. He gave up six hits in six innings of work.
Steven de la Torriente drove in a run for Post 342 with a groundout in the fourth. Jack Dennis singled and scored a pair of runs and Ryan Thomas singled and scored a run.