CAROL STREAM – St. Charles Post 342 was playing for its 11th District tournament life Thursday at Lee Pfund Stadium at Wheaton Legion Post 76.
After Post 342 got a win when Lake in the Hills forfeited the 4 p.m. game, St. Charles moved on to play Plainfield Post 1080, with the winner moving on and the losing team exiting the double-elimination tournament.
Post 342 came up big, keeping itself alive with a 12-1 seven-inning victory to move to Friday’s game at 7 p.m. against the loser of the 4 p.m. game between Wheaton and Elgin.
Post 342 moves to 23-9 on the season.Plainfield, which only had nine players and was thin on pitchers, dropped to 6-13.
“We just wanted to be more aggressive than [Wednesday],” said St. Charles’ Ryan Thomas, who was 2 for 3 with a walk and hit by pitch, scored two runs and knocked in a run.
“Yesterday (in a loss to Wheaton Post 76) they had us on the ropes the entire game. Yesterday we weren’t sharp defensively. Today we played solid defensively, which I think was the difference.”
St. Charles scored a run in the second on an RBI double by catcher Mitch Hurst, who was 2 for 4 with two doubles and three RBIs. It added a run in the third on an RBI single by Jack Dennis.
Plainfield cut the lead in half with a run in the fourth, knocking out St. Charles starter Collin Peterson, who was relieved by Ankur Shah with one out in the inning.
Shah allowed an RBI single, but shut the door the rest of the way in 2 1/3 innings of relief to earn the win.
Post 342 got the run back in the fifth on an RBI double by Thomas, then exploded for nine in the seventh to shorten the game due to the 10-run mercy rule.
Hurst, who was 2 for 4 with two doubles and three RBIs, had a big two-run double in the seventh inning.
“We had a couple of guys on, and we wanted to10-run ‘em,” he said of his big double. “They brought in a new pitcher, so I wanted to take a strike. A saw a pitch on the outside half and put it the other way.
“I normally only play seven innings (for St.Charles North, where he will be a senior), so the extra two innings in this heat is actually a lot for me behind the plate with all the gear on a humid night like tonight. It was tough. It was real hot. I caught the last four days, but I had to grind it out.”
Thomas scored two runs in the seventh inning, when Post 342 sent 12 batters to the plate, doubling early in the inning and getting hit by a pitch late in the same frame.
“One guy starts off the inning aggressive and the other guys follow,” Thomas said. “We go up there and take our hacks. Our coaches told us (Plainfield) didn’t really have any pitchers. They were just tossing kids up there. So we just needed to be patient, see a pitch and put agood swing on it.”
To win the tournament, Post 342 will have to continue to battle back from the loser’s bracket, where they landed after Wednesday’s loss to Wheaton. But Hurst and his teammates are optimistic.
“I think we can come out and get a ‘W,’” Hurst said. “We have a lot of confidence from this game.”