Baseball: Elgin, St Charles North split a pairElgin's Alex Doty (21) pitches during the sixth inning at Trout Park in Elgin, Ill., on Saturday, May 12, 2012.
| Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media |
What looked like curtains for St. Charles North’s Upstate Eight River title chances Saturday after Elgin’s Alex Doty shut the Stars down in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Elgin’s Trout Park turned 180 degrees to a possible outright title shot after Game 2.
Following a 3-1 loss in the opener, right fielder Kurt Barbeau saved the day for St. Charles North in Game 2 with a heroic seventh-inning catch against the fence and freshman call-up pitcher Kurt Wright held the Maroons to three hits over six innings for a 2-1 Stars victory. And after Geneva swept a doubleheader against St. Charles East on Saturday, St. Charles North gained a game to trail by one and set up a crosstown three-game showdown for the River Division title next week with the Saints.
“The way it ended was wild, with our closer (Collin Peterson) hanging a slider and they nearly took it out — just a great catch saved it,” said St. Charles North assistant coach Jim Richardson, who had expanded duties Saturday with head coach Todd Genke sidelined following shoulder surgery.
Batting for the first time in the game, Elgin’s Nick Turner launched a shot to deep right-center with Kiko Mari on second following a two-out single and a wild pitch. It appeared to be headed for a tie game and extra bases, but Barbeau caught it on the run, about three or four feet shy of a walk-off homer. Barbeau had his back partially to the infield when he got it and crashed into some advertising on the fence.
“It wouldn’t have gone over,” Barbeau said. “I got a good jump and I knew I had enough room even though it was hit pretty hard. I didn’t care if the wall was there. I just wanted to catch the ball.”
Wright, a left-hander, struck out six and walked one in his first varsity start, but allowed an unearned run to tie the game in the fourth when Jake Bartelt reached on a two-base throwing error and scored on Ryan Sitter’s single.
However, the Stars (22-10, 16-6) got the winning run in the top of the sixth off Elgin starter Eric Daly when Jake Smiley singled, stole second, moved up on a ground out and scored on John Brodner’s single off the fence in left. Mari’s throw from left gunned down Brodner trying for a double, but the damage was done. St. Charles North’s first run came in the first inning on Jake Johansmeier’s RBI single.
“We’re a little light on pitching and have had some reschedules so we brought up Corey,” Richardson said. “He pitched well at the freshman level and then as a freshman at the sophomore level, so we wanted to reward the kid and see how it would transcend to the varsity game.
“He mixed his fastball and changeup and kept them off balance.”
Daly (1-6) allowed six hits and walked none in Game 2 as Elgin (12-19, 5-16) continued getting good pitching. The Maroons had won four of their last five after Doty (3-3) allowed just three hits and fanned six while walking three to beat North starter Andrew Kroncke (4-3, 5 innings, 3 runs, 1 earned, two strikeouts, three walks).
“I think today I was pitching more to contact than I was trying to overpower anybody,” Doty said. “I was getting the first pitch in for strikes.
“With regionals coming around, we’re trying to get a spark and start a fire a little bit and try to get on a nice little run.”
Doty walked two in the seventh with two out but buckled down and got Brandon Drawant to end the game as the Maroons avenged a 13-3 loss against St. Charles North on Thursday. The triumph was Elgin’s first against the North Stars in 16 meetings dating to 2006.
“He’s been pretty sharp all year,” Elgin coach Dave Foerster said of Doty, who will pitch at Western Illinois next year. “Since he lost 2-0 to (St. Charles) East he’s been on a good run. The thing is he’s learning to attack hitters more this year.”
The Maroons scored the tying run in Game 1 in the fourth on a unique double play. Courtesy runner Nick Valadez, on for Turner after a walk, tagged and scored on Derek Strohmaier’s line drive to the outfield for the second out. Chris Edwards was doubled off first for failing to tag, but the run counted since Valadez came in before the third out.
Sitter gave Elgin a 2-1 lead in the fourth with an RBI single after Gage Teschner reached on an error and moved up on a sacrifice and passed ball.
The last Elgin run came on Bartelt’s RBI single after Chris Edwards got hit by a pitch and Teschner had walked.
“That’s how we have had to do it on offense is scratch and claw and score some runs,” Foerster said.