SCHAUMBURG – St. Charles North baseball players aspire to "hang numbers" each season, their expression for securing more postseason plaques to display in the press box.
On Thursday, the inability to produce a crooked number against South Elgin senior right-hander Ryan Nutof kept the North Stars from contending for more hardware.
Senior center fielder Nick Drawant scored the team's lone run with one out in the seventh inning, bringing North within the final frustrating margin in a 9-1 loss to the Storm in a Class 4A Schaumburg Sectional semifinal.
"Just let us get some life in the team, you know," Drawant said. "We weren't going to back down. We were pushing the whole game. It just didn't go how we wanted to."
Drawant crossed the plate at the end of a wild play, as an errant throw from the outfield followed shortstop Zach Mettetal's single to center, the last of four North hits.
The run marked the first South Elgin (23-10) has allowed this postseason. The Storm thumped Wheaton North and Hoffman Estates in run-rule victories during regionals.
"It was unearned for Ryan," South Elgin second baseman Jared Kramer said. "Kind of wish it would have been a shutout, but it was a good game anyway."
A Michigan recruit who's likely to be selected in this weekend's Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, Nutof supported himself with the only offense he needed.
With Kramer aboard and one out in the top of the first, Nutof drilled senior Franky Farry's delivery over the heart of the plate for a two-run home run to right field.
North coach Todd Genke had called for an inside pitch, but later lauded Farry's effort overall. South Elgin reached Farry for seven runs and nine hits in 1 1/3 innings, but Genke thought the defense could have bailed him out earlier.
The North Stars (23-13) allowed seven runs in the first two innings and scuffled against Nutof, who pitched before a Texas Rangers scout whose radar gun reported Nutof's velocity at 93 mph in the first inning. Nutof struck out nine and walked three.
"First four innings or so, the curveball was a little spotty and I couldn't really find it that much, but my fastball was working all day, and in the later innings I found my curveball and started to trick some hitters," Nutof said. "It started working real nicely."
Junior right-hander Sam Hubbe kept North afloat with 4 2/3 innings of solid relief of Farry, spacing one run, four hits, two walks and four strikeouts.
"Frank had a great season for us. He's a big reason why we're here, and Sam will be a big reason why we'll hopefully be back here next year," Genke said. "We have a lot of young kids on this team, and they got really valuable experience today, and they know now what if feels like to get to his point in the season and lose a game.
"So it's invaluable, and I look forward to getting right back after it next week during summer ball and getting our mind focused back on getting to this point next year."
South Elgin advanced to Saturday's sectional championship game against top-seeded Batavia, which beat the Storm, 6-0, behind Colby Green's no-hitter in April.
North, which won the program's first regional since 2010, hoped for another crack at the Bulldogs, too, but was unable to keep pace with South Elgin. Cory Wright (double), Drawant (double) and Anthony Lambert collected North's other hits.
"It was a great group. This is one of the funnest years I've ever played baseball. Senior year, you know," Drawant said. "Didn't end up like we wanted, but we still got a number on that press box."