Baseball: St Charles East steals one from ElginElgin's Derek Strohmaier slides into third before the throw to St. Charles East's Luke Ludke on Thursday afternoon in St. Charles. | Karen Naess ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 19, 2012 10:02PM
After struggling to score runs all game, St. Charles East received a three-run gift in the bottom of the eighth inning to pull out a 6-5 Upstate Eight River win over Elgin on Thursday.
The Maroons scored a pair of runs to break a 3-3 tie and take a 5-3 lead in the top of the eighth inning but let it slip away.
The Saints were down to their final out and trailing 5-4 when John Hondlik reached base on an error on grounder to shortstop that allowed Nicholas Erickson to score the tying run from third base. Joe Hoscheit, who had coaxed a walk with two outs to keep the inning alive, advanced to third on the play.
On the next pitch Hondlik broke for second base and beat the throw down while at the same time Hoscheit scampered home from third to complete the double steal and score the winning run.
“That’s the first time I have ever been involved in a play like that to end a game,” Hoscheit said. “It’s something we practice a lot. It was pretty exciting to have it work in that situation.”
The Saints (10-5, 8-2) rallied from a 3-1 deficit with a run in the bottom of the fifth inning and another in the bottom of the sixth inning to force extra innings. Hoscheit’s sacrifice fly scored Erickson with the tying run in the sixth.
The Saints run in the fifth came on a leadoff triple by Hondlik followed by a single from Nick Huskisson. Hoscheit had a solo homer in the third inning to account for the Saints first run.
By no means did the Saints offense run smoothly. East had 13 pop outs in the game and stranded 11 baserunners , including seven in the first three innings.
“Our lack of discipline at the plate almost came back to bite us,” East coach Len Asquini said. “We were just chasing way too many high pitches and popping them up. It’s not something we usually struggle with.
“We just seem to have a lapse today. But the good news was we kept battling and showed some fortitude. And we were able to hang in close enough to be able to pull it out at the end.”
Hondlik pitched the final three innings to pick up the win despite surrendering two runs in the top of the eighth. The Maroons had grabbed the lead with an RBI single by Ryan Sitter with one out in the eighth.
Hondlik later walked in a run. Elgin had a chance to add to the lead but Jake Bartelt lined into an inning-ending double play. The Maroons — who had been shut out four games in a row entering Thursday — had other chances to pull away in the game but left 11 runners stranded.
The Maroons (4-13, 0-10) scored a pair of runs in the fifth inning on an RBI infield single by Bartelt and a bases-loaded walk to Andrew Higdon to take a 3-1 lead. Gage Teschner also had an RBI single for the Maroons in the first inning.
Kiko Mari was the tough-luck losing pitcher for the Maroons.
“That was a tough one to lose,” Elgin coach David Foerster said.
“We had battled so hard to get in a position to win. But I think maybe in that last inning we started to play more not to lose rather than closing it out. We made some errors and then had some miscommunication on that last play.”