ST. CHARLES – The St. Charles East baseball team beat the heat, beat a pair of lightning delays, and beat Geneva soundly Thursday to advance to the Elite Eight of the Phil Lawler Classic.
The Saints scored nine runs in the first four innings and cruised to a 9-1 victory over the Vikings in a regional final at East.
Junior rightfielder Jake Rykoskey had three hits in as many trips to the plate for the Saints and drove in five runs. The big blow was his three-RBI double to the right-center gap off Geneva starter Max Novak in the fourth inning.
“My buddy was pitching. He’s on my travel team, so I know him pretty well. He just gave me a good pitch to hit,” Rykoskey said. “It was a fastball. It was on the outside half. It was a good pitch.”
Erik Anderson, Jake Milosch, Adam Rojas, and Alex Abate also drove in runs.
“They’re really locked in. They’re having great approaches,” East coach Len Asquini said of his hitters. “You don’t see us swinging too much out of the zone. We’re getting good counts, working the counts.”
Geneva’s hitters, on the other hand, were largely stymied by Saints’ starter Mike Boehmer, who was warmed up and ready to throw his first pitch when the lightning warning siren at the football field went off, delaying the start of the game by 30 minutes.
“It’s hard to warm up, sit for a half-hour, and have to start back up all over again,” Boehmer said. “Doing it twice isn’t exactly fun, but you’ve got to manage.”
Boehmer (3-1) was on the mound again to start the top of the fourth when the home plate umpire spotted another lightning bolt in the distance, delaying the game for another 30 minutes.
If the delays perturbed Boehmer, he didn’t show it. Although the Vikings put runners on base in every inning, Boehmer didn’t allow a run until the fifth.
Geneva’s only run was scored on a ground ball that might have been an inning-ending double play with a better throw from second.
Boehmer scattered seven hits over five innings. He struck out four and walked none. He said his pitches were consistently finding the corners.
“Except I can’t get Ben Chally out,” he said, raising his voice so that the Geneva third baseman could hear him. “I throw a change-up six inches outside and [he] hit a triple down the line.”
No one has had much success getting Chally out lately. He continued his recent torrid hitting with a double, a triple, and an RBI grounder to short.
Mick Vyzral worked the sixth and seventh for the Saints (19-12-1).
Asquini said he told his players after the game that they had just created history for St. Charles East.
“We’ve never gone to spring state and then summer state right after that,” he explained. “It’s the first time ever. We’ve had some pretty good teams – some teams that got to this final game and couldn’t get it done.”
The Saints will play Monday at either North Central College in Naperville or Benedictine University in Lisle.
The Vikings ended the summer 14-12.
“Take today out of the equation, the last two weeks I think we played very good baseball,” Geneva coach Matt Hahn said. “We have five sophomores on the varsity team who were playing freshman baseball two months ago. I thought we improved immensely throughout the summer. I really like our prospects going forward. I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people in the spring.”