Matt Starai simply pitched to his strengths on Tuesday afternoon.
The St. Charles East senior right-hander demonstrated effectiveness with four different pitches, completely shutting down Batavia in the process.
Starai completed his second shutout of the baseball season with a called third strike, but it was the Saints’ defense behind him that told the tale in its 4-0 Upstate Eight Conference River Division victory in St. Charles.
Nicholas Erickson more than atoned for his fielding miscue in the Bulldogs’ sixth inning.
The Saints’ shortstop robbed the Bulldogs’ Micah Coffey for a base hit as he lunged brilliantly to his left to snare a lined shot to end the inning.
In the previous inning, right-fielder Brannon Barry did likewise to the Bulldogs’ Colby Green to strand one of the few Batavia runners on the day.
“The defense (was the difference),” said Starai, who allowed 2 hits and an equal number of walks to improve to 4-0 on the year. “I just wanted to attack the hitters today. I located my fastball really well today.”
In a quick-moving game, St. Charles East (7-5, 4-2) scored a run before touching Batavia starter Emilio Tenuta (1-1) for a hit.
Brian Sobieski led off the Saints’ second with a walk and later scored on the back half of a double steal when he barreled over Batavia catcher Dean Simoncelli.
Batavia coach Matt Holm protested the legality of the play, but his argument did not sway the home-plate umpire.
“It made a big difference in the game,” Holm said.
Tenuta pitched admirably himself, but his Batavia teammates were never able to solve Starai.
Coffey and Luke Horton were the only two Batavia batters to collect hits, and Batavia (11-2, 5-2) never advanced a runner past second base.
“We knew (Starai) was tremendous coming in,” Holm said. “He has command of four different pitches.”
Conversely, the Saints defense was virtually flawless around him.
“Defense was wonderful,” St. Charles East coach Len Asquini said. “(Starai) is able to keep the hitters guessing. We have been pretty solid defensively lately. Our offense has been a little stale.”
In a game with only 7 combined hits, the Saints’ Erik Anderson collected both RBI with a perfectly executed suicide squeeze in the fourth and a two-out single to right in the sixth.
“Coach always talks about completing jobs,” Anderson said. “I felt a little more confident when (Asquini) called (the squeeze play).”
Sobieski also scored on a wild pitch for St. Charles East in its 2-run fourth.
The teams continue their three-game set today in Batavia.
“We wanted to get ahead in the series,” Asquini said.
St. Charles North 4, Geneva 2: Tim Misner delivered an RBI double in the second inning, scoring Jack Dennis and Kyle Khoury, in the North Stars’ win at Geneva.
Ankur Shah pitched a complete game for the North Stars, allowing four hits while striking out eight.
For Geneva, Ben Chally knocked two hits and scored both Viking runs.
The teams resume their three-game series Wednesday at St. Charles North before returning to Geneva Thursday.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.