Baseball: St. Charles East bows out against Schaumburg
By Gene Chamberlain For Sun-Times Media May 30, 2012 11:22PM
Updated: May 30, 2012 11:32PM
Schaumburg proved better at taking a gamble than St. Charles East on Wednesday in the Class 4A Schaumburg Sectional.
As a result, the 10th-seeded Saxons found a way to pull away for a 4-1 victory over the third-seeded Saints behind the pitching of Max Paolicchi and Matt Brancato as they earned a spot in Saturday’s championship game against Willowbrook at Boomers Field.
“We’ve been on a roll,” said Schaumburg’s Brancato. “What’s made the difference is every single kid in our lineup has done the little things.”
But Brancato did something big in the fifth inning of a tie game after he walked and moved around to third on a one-out double by Colin Bethran. Jack Holden hit a hard grounder to third against a drawn-in infield, but Brancato didn’t hesitate and came home. The throw had to go to first as the Saxons took a 2-1 lead.
“Coach (Paul) Groot and I always discuss what’s going to happen right before the play happens,” Brancato said. “He told me to go on contact and if the ball was right at him, hit hard, he would yell ‘rundown.’
“I didn’t hear rundown, so I was going straight in.”
The Saints (25-11) came back with their gamble in the fifth. Speedy St. Charles East leadoff hitter Nick Erickson singled, stole second and tried to come all the way home when John Hondlik hit a grounder to short. He was out at the plate in a close play after Hondlik beat the throw to first for a hit.
“That changes momentum a little bit on both sides,” St. Charles East coach Len Asquini said. “They executed and made the play. It’s a gamble and you obviously are rolling the dice to see if you can push a run across or you get thrown out.
“We were having a tough time offensively pushing the ball and doing something with guys in scoring position. It was an opportunity for us to maybe sneak in a run and we took a chance, but they executed.”
Paolicchi (6-3) went 5 1/3 innings for the win and Brancato finished for a save. Together, they scattered seven Saints hits.
“I trusted in the defense the entire time,” Paolicchi said. “I’ve been in some bad situations before and they’ve always come through.”
The offense came through for the Saxons (24-13), as well. Joe Petritis doubled home the tying run in the fourth after the Saints had scored in the third on Erickson’s sacrifice fly, a sacrifice bunt and Joe Hoscheit’s sacrifice fly.
After the run on the infield grounder, the Saxons got insurance runs in the sixth on Tom Byrne’s two-out RBI single off losing pitcher Kyle Manske, and in the seventh on an RBI infield ground out by Patrick Bellinger.
Schaumburg knocked around St. Charles East’s pitchers for 11 hits.
“Today was the first playoff game that we really had the bats going, but what really won this game was our great defense,” Brancato said.
Brancato, Holden, Byrne, and Petritis had two hits each for the Saxons, while Erickson and Luke Ludke had a couple hits each for the Saints. Ludke had two doubles, but the Saints failed to score following both.
“It’s been a resilient group,” Asquini said. “Really, we’re a junior dominated team that had only five seniors who we’ll miss.
“Certainly we look forward to having that (junior) group coming back that was a big part of a conference and regional champion.”