ST. CHARLES – Kyle Cook’s first pitching start of the summer for the St. Charles East baseball team left the Saints eager for an encore.
The junior right-hander made his debut start Wednesday against St. Charles North in the regional semifinal round of the Phil Lawler Summer Classic, and Cook had the North Stars off-kilter throughout East’s 7-0 victory.
It was an afternoon Cook had circled for quite a while.
“Definitely, because I’ve been pitching for my travel team a lot, and I just wanted to come out and show my high school what I had stored up this whole season,” said Cook, who was a starting pitcher and outfielder with East’s sophomores in the spring.
After their third win in as many days, the host Saints advance to face Geneva in today’s St. Charles Regional championship game at 4 p.m., with a chance to play their way into the summer’s Elite Eight beginning Monday.
Cook allowed four hits, striking out three and hitting a batter. He said his familiarity with the crosstown North Stars came in handy.
“I’ve faced them probably two or three times in the last couple years,” Cook said. “I know a couple of the juniors, and they don’t like off-speeds, and whether they like it inside, outside. I know about half of them pretty well, and the other ones, I just go up there and try to do my best.”
Cook projects to be part of a deep, balanced rotation next season as East retools its pitching after graduating its top three starters from the Saints’ third-place, Class 4A team in the spring.
East coach Len Asquini said the Saints are progressing nicely on the mound.
“If you look at where we were at the beginning of the summer and where we are now, we’ve really taken quite a few steps forward in getting ahead,” Asquini said. “In terms of assessing [the rotation], we’re not ready to assess it yet, we’re still moving forward and developing.
“It’s wonderful. It’s a good battle. It looks like we’ve got four kids that can probably start for us next year right off the bat, and that’s not including a couple others that have done very well for us, too, that could be in that mix.”
Third baseman Alex Abate and shortstop Jake Milosch each had two hits with an RBI for East (18-12-1), which put the game away with five runs spanning the final three innings.
North (20-7), the top seed in the regional, fell behind, 2-0, after sophomore pitcher Jack Lambert yielded a pair of unearned runs in the top of the third.
“I thought that really changed the game,” North coach Todd Genke said. “I think pound for pound, we’re very comparable [with East], but if we don’t make the plays defensively, just like anybody else, you put yourself in some tough situations.
“It was only 2-0 and they were both unearned runs but it felt like a lot more according to our body language, which we can’t allow that to happen.”
Junior Carson Schmitt had two of North’s four hits.