ST. CHARLES – This time of year, high school baseball coaches are generally willing to accentuate the good plays and chalk up the bad ones as learning experiences.
St. Charles East coach Len Asquini had some of both to analyze Tuesday but the Saints’ 10-2 win against Geneva in the second round of the summer playoffs skewed toward the positive.
For summer baseball, he’ll certainly take it.
“We took advantage of some of their mistakes, they took advantage of a couple of ours,” Asquini said. “If we could have closed that down defensively, it would have been a super-solid game for us. Instead we just got a solid game.
“But our offense came to life and we got some big hits, which was awesome to see.”
One of those came in the bottom of the third as East leadoff hitter Reid Olson opened the scoring with a two-run home run to left field off Vikings right-hander Bryan Callaly. East never relinquished its lead in the Phil Lawler Summer Classic.
“I think he threw me a changeup that was high,” Olson said. “I like the high pitches. He’s a real good pitcher. Earlier in the [summer] I struggled off of him, the first time we played them, and I just kind of left it there. Saw the ball well and put a good swing on it.”
Olson said some of his teammates rib him for not doing enough leg workouts but his power is beginning to blossom this summer.
“I’m normally a base-hit hitter but this summer for some reason, I’ve hit a couple off the fence, and finally got one out today,” Olson said.
With the win, the Saints advance to today’s 5 p.m. St. Charles East Regional semifinal against another Tri-Cities rival, Batavia.
Geneva had a fleeting period of momentum when the Vikings wiggled out of a one out, bases loaded jam thanks to some shaky East base running to keep their deficit at 3-0 in the bottom of the fourth. The Vikings then broke through against East starting pitcher Kyle Cook with two runs in the top of the fifth as East’s defense faltered.
But the Saints swiftly re-asserted control of the game with two runs in the bottom of the fifth for a 5-2 advantage, and East added five runs in the sixth against Vikings reliever Eric O’Loughlin.
“It didn’t balloon,” Asquini said of East’s midgame rocky patch. “We were in jail, we got out without a big, big problem.”
East junior catcher Anthony Adduci continued to be one of the Saints’ most impressive performers this summer, going 3 for 4 with an RBI double while batting cleanup.
Callaly missed the spring season while recovering from an ACL tear so the opportunity to pitch this summer was crucial for a right-hander who Geneva coach Matt Hahn envisions becoming an important cog in his rotation.
“He’s kind of playing a year behind, so he’s trying to play some catch-up,” Hahn said. “He’s only going to be a junior, so he’s got a nice frame to him, nice, big kid. So we expect big things out of him.”
As Geneva concluded its summer slate, Hahn said there were several encouraging developments, including Nick Porretto emerging at third base, Jack Wassel (3 for 3 Tuesday) solidifying shortstop in the aftermath of Nick Derr’s transfer and Mitchell Merges swinging a hot stick after seeing limited at-bats during the spring.
Hahn also singled out catcher Nate Montgomery for his budding intangibles.
“I think he’s the clear-cut leader of our team getting ready for this spring,” Hahn said. “That was very apparent this summer.”