St. Charles East's Starai shuts out Batavia again
Pitching against Batavia for the second time in 7 days, Matt Starai didn't want to alter his game plan.
That was for good reason.
The St. Charles East (10-5, 8-2) senior tossed his second consecutive 2-hit shutout against the Bulldogs (13-3, 7-3) during the Saints' 1-0 Upstate Eight Conference River Division victory Monday afternoon in St. Charles.
Starai (5-0) turned in another masterful performance, striking out 5, walking 2 and hitting a batter while firing his third shutout of the young season.
"We didn't want to change anything," said Starai, who owns 5 of the Saints' 10 victories. "We wanted to attack the same way. We went in with a similar game plan – maybe a couple more breaking balls.
"They changed their approach. I think they took a few more pitches this game so I was a little deeper in counts but I was able to get the job done."
Saints coach Len Asquini, who wasn't able to see much of Starai last summer (opted to play for a travel team) has been ecstatic with the results his team has received from the right-handed fireballer.
"He has been dynamite – locked in and dead on," said Asquini. "Boy was he super…again. He made some tough pitches in tough situations to get out of the little jams there."
One of those little jams occurred in the sixth inning when the Bulldogs' Laren Eustace, who reached first on a hit batsman, advanced to third on a 2-out wild pitch.
However, Starai fanned Micah Coffey on a breaking ball to end the threat a few moments after Saints assistant coach Mark Foulkes had paid a visit to the mound.
"He just wanted to make sure we were getting the right sequence in and executing," said Starai, who threw 3 straight breaking balls to Coffey before wasting a fastball outside and coming back with another off-speed pitch.
"He's (Coffey) hitting fastballs very well so we wanted to change things up and go with a breaking ball this time," added Starai, who has now thrown 14 consecutive scoreless innings against the Bulldogs.
Luke Horton led off the seventh with a single, advanced to second on Robbie Bowman's sacrifice bunt and took third on a groundout – 1 of Batavia's 11 groundball outs on the day – before Starai recorded a game-ending strikeout on a hard slider.
"That tells you where the ball is and what kind of pitches they're trying to move – some tough down-angle balls," said Asquini.
With the third and final game of the series scheduled for Wednesday in Batavia, Starai will not likely face the Bulldogs a third time this season.
"We've got to run home and get the tarp on so we don't see him again next week," said Bulldogs Matt Holm. "It's the truth. If we don't see him Wednesday, we'll probably see him next week or the week after.
"It's a broken record – same thing I said last week," added Holm. "He's a very good pitcher. We weren't striking out but we weren't getting very good swings, either. If he gets ahead in the count, he's got all four pitches he can throw for strikes so you're in trouble."
Starai's performance overshadowed a solid effort turned in by Batavia starting pitcher Colby Green, who allowed just 4 hits with 3 strikeouts.
The lone run came across in the fifth without the benefit of a base hit. Green plunked Jack Dellostritto with a 1-1 pitch and then threw wildly on a pickoff attempt, allowing Dellostritto to take second.
With 2 out and a runner on third, shortstop Billy Zwick was unable to field Joe Hoscheit's slow roller, allowing Dellostritto to score.
"I thought Colby pitched a tremendous game," said Holm. "The defense played well behind him until we gave up the throw on the pickoff and then having the uncanny error. Billy (Zwick) just doesn't make errors.
"That's what it comes down to in games like this," added Holm. "If you make more mistakes than they do, that's going to hurt."
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