ST. CHARLES – An umpire wearing shorts, a coach winning arguments with the umpires and a game-winning run scored on a strikeout.
Tuesday’s Phil Lawler Summer Classic matchup between the St. Charles North baseball team and West Chicago provided no shortage of quirks, and the North Stars will be around to see what other surprises might be around the corner after advancing with a 7-6 win against the Wildcats.
North trailed, 6-5, before scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth. A two out, RBI single by senior Jack Dennis scored shortstop Hunter Buerster (one-out walk) to tie the game at 6, and the next batter – cleanup hitter Carson Schmitt – wheeled all the way to second base after striking out on a pitch in the dirt that bounded away from home plate, allowing John Legare to race home with the go-ahead score.
“You could call it a break,” North coach Todd Genke said. “I’m not so sure that’s the way you really want to win a ballgame, but we certainly want to take advantage of that when we can. We hustle all the time.”
The North Stars advance to face St. Charles East at 2:30 p.m. today at St. Charles East High School in a St. Charles Regional semifinal.
North’s Nos. 4 through 6 hitters – Schmitt, Jordan Bergren and Joe Kuczek – had hits in each of their first two at-bats, helping fatigue Wildcats righty Dave Kordik in the late innings.
“We were doing some catch-up baseball,” Kuczek said. “Taking pitches, grinding at-bats out, making him throw more pitches. That probably helped us win the ballgame at the end.”
Kordik wasn’t the only person to feel the effects of a steamy, summer afternoon on North’s diamond.
A lengthy delay took place after the fourth inning as the umpires fled the sun and re-hydrated.
When the game resumed, the home plate umpire switched spots with the field umpire, and traded in his trousers for a pair of shorts.
“I give him a lot of credit, I didn’t even think he was going to finish the game,” Genke said. “They made the plan to switch, which was a smart move.”
Early in the game, Genke pulled off quite a rarity – winning not one, but two disputes with the umpiring crew.
Genke successfully protested a call at third base and a balk call on North relief pitcher Drew Underwager.
Both calls were reversed in North’s favor after consultation between the umpires.
“If I was a trial lawyer, I’d be doing pretty well, making a lot of money for myself,” Genke said. “But unfortunately, my record against umpires is not very good.”
Underwager came on in the third inning to relieve Dennis, who started the game.
Fellow senior Frankie Farry was the winning pitcher, despite allowing the Wildcats to break a 5-all tie with a run in the top of the sixth. In the seventh, Farry overcame a two-out error by North that was followed by a Wildcats single to close the door.
The win improved North to 20-6 on the summer after a lukewarm spring season.
“Real excited about that, especially after the spring we had,” Genke said.