ST. CHARLES – St. Charles East second baseman Alex Abate grinned from the dugout as the Saints’ reserves helped the team bat around in Thursday’s sixth inning.
To start, the rally triggered the run rule in a 14-3 victory at St. Charles North and secured an Upstate Eight Conference River Division sweep.
But Abate and Co. also remained happy because their teammates stayed dialed in. Many of the team’s late at-bats mirrored the one Abate turned into a two-out, two-run single for the game’s first runs in the second inning.
“When we go up to bat, we get up on the plate, try to go middle-away, and we just be aggressive and we try to hit line drives through the infield,” Abate said. “And it’s been working out for us the past couple games, so we’re really excited about everyone doing really well.”
East (17-8, 13-6 UEC River) struck for four, two-out runs in the second inning to seize early control it didn’t relinquish. Abate scored one batter after his hit, when center fielder Brannon Barry banged a two-run double off the wall in left center. Barry finished 3 for 4 with two doubles and four RBIs.
His No. 3 lineup slot was productive, period, as pinch-hitter Max Powers hit a two-run single in the sixth that made it 13-3.
Four innings earlier, the Saints’ bench greeted Abate with a playful, Maury Povich-ian chant of “Alex Abate … YOU ARE NOT THE FATHER!” early in his at-bat. Moments later, however, Abate’s hit started the Saints on their way to taking full custody of the crosstown showdown after clinching a series win with Wednesday’s eight-inning victory at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.
The base runners and chatter kept coming to back winner Mike Boehmer, who earned his fifth victory with six innings of four-hit, six-strikeout ball. Shortstop Jake Asquini had a two-run single in the fourth, and East capitalized on seven North Stars walks.
“Baseball’s a lot more fun when you’ve got the whole team into it, whether you’re playing or not,” Barry said. “Baseball’s a lot of noise, so if you’re loud, you’re bound to have some effect. Every little thing has it.”
Well, almost everything. Four Saints errors helped North (16-7, 10-5) score each of its runs.
Designated hitter Joe Kuczek smacked an RBI double to punctuate a two-run rally in the third.
“I’m really soul-searching, because for us to come out and just kind of go through the motions today is shocking to me,” said North coach Todd Genke, back in the dugout after missing Wednesday’s game after an ejection in Tuesday’s series opener.
“If I could get into the 16- and 17-year-old mind, I’d love to see what goes on in there. Because there’s days like today where I don’t know. But the beauty is, we’re still right in the middle of this thing.”
Batavia, with two losses and a tie in league play, still awaits North in a three-game series.
Batavia and fellow conference contender Geneva also have yet to square off, meeting Saturday and Tuesday.