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St. Charles East

Saints’ ‘good experience’ ends with loss

LISLE – The St. Charles East baseball team couldn’t get much going with its bats Wednesday night.

Still, the Saints manufactured runs via walks, aggressive base running, a couple errors and a clutch two-out, run-scoring single.

All of it kept them in the game, but just wasn’t’t enough to help East earn the victory. The Saints saw their summer season come to a close with a 5-4 loss to Lincoln-Way North in the semifinals of the Phil Lawler Summer Classic.

The Saints finished 29-9.

“It was a definitely a fun game and high intensity on both levels,” Saints coach Len Asquini said. “A lot of those pressure kind of situations from start to finish and the kinds that we want our kids to be in at this point in time, and hopefully it’ll help us when we get to spring.”

A walk and a pair of errors allowed the Saints to jump to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, despite not getting a single hit.

It would stay that way until the third, when the Phoenix (11-6) rallied with a big four-run inning.

A hit, walk and a hit batter loaded the bases for Tyler Strzelczyk, whose high-bouncing chopper toward first found right field to tie the score at 2. James Quinn added an RBI groundout before Pat Troike delivered a two-out, run-scoring single to right field, making it 4-2.

The Saints knotted things up at 4 in the fourth against starting pitcher Tyler Laux.

Designated hitter Niko Klebosits got things started with a leadoff single. Brendan Benvenuti sacrificed him to second. After John Dello Stritto grounded out, Jimmy Dale hammered an RBI single to left field. Austin Gift singled to keep the inning alive before a wild pitch brought Dale all the way home from second base.

“Both teams (took advantage of opportunities),” Asquini said. “They did it just a little bit better in that one inning when they got four across, where we only got two. I thought we could’ve got a couple more in that inning, but they did a nice job of stopping it and making it not a big inning.”

Lincoln-Way North didn’t lose any momentum, taking the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth. Back-to-back singles put runners on the corners for Strzelczyk, who hit a sacrifice fly to center for the 5-4 lead.

The Saints loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the sixth but couldn’t get the tying run to cross the plate, as Benvenuti grounded out to shortstop to end the inning on a bang-bang play.

Losing pitcher Steve Podany, who gave up six hits and five earned runs, shut down the Phoenix in order in the bottom of the sixth, giving the Saints hope, but they went down in order in the top of the seventh.

“When I didn’t hit my spots, they definitely hit the ball and made me pay for it,” Podany said. “Actually, that one bad inning, if that didn’t happen this is a different ballgame.”

The Saints only managed four hits and three of them came in the fifth inning, but they stayed within striking distance until the final out.

“I actually thought that was the most complete game we’ve played in this whole run in the playoffs,” Dale said. “They played a phenomenal game and both teams played great defense. It was just a great battle and fun game to be out there. Even with the loss, it was a good experience.”

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