The beauty of baseball can largely be found in its unique nomenclature.
"His uncle Charlie was pretty good today," St. Charles East coach Len Asquini said after starting pitcher Matt Starai earned a complete-game 2-1 victory over Glenbard East Thursday afternoon at the Class 4A Geneva regional semifinal.
The Saints (23-11), seeded fourth in their sectional complex, will face either sixth-seeded and host Geneva or No. 12 Glenbard West Saturday morning in the championship game.
The exceptionally deceptive Rams, the No. 13 seed, ended their season at 13-23.
"Uncle Charlie" is baseball slang for a curveball, but Starai was far from avuncular to the Rams as the senior right-hander improved to 8-1 on the season after allowing only 3 hits while striking out 10.
"The curveball was really good today," said Starai, who terminated the Rams' last chance with his signature pitch with a man on second and two outs in the seventh inning. "I was trying to keep hitters off-balance and keep them guessing. I struck out a lot of kids with fastballs."
"He had a heck of a day out there," Asquini said.
In a classic postseason duel framed by the two starting pitchers, the Saints' uncommitted Starai and Glenbard East senior Nick Vichio, the sixth inning was the tale of the tape.
Glenbard East stranded a pair of runners in its half, and the Saints' Joe Hoscheit rifled a single to center to begin their half.
After a flyout to center, Hoscheit swiped second base.
Brian Sobieski saw nothing but fastballs in falling behind 1-2 as the third St. Charles East batter of the inning.
"I knew (Vichio) was going to come low and away to try and get me," Sobieski said.
The Rams' right-hander threw an off-speed pitch, which Sobieski drilled into the left-field corner for a run-scoring double.
"It was a changeup. (I was) trying to have the guy behind me get an at-bat," Sobieski said. "(I wanted to) have a quality at-bat, make something happen."
The Rams' Greg Ludwig reached on an infield error to begin the top of the seventh, but he never advanced past second base as Starai ended the game with back-to-back strikeouts.
St. Charles East opened the scoring in the second inning as Sobieski had a leadoff double the opposite way; the senior scored one out later on a Jack Dellostritto single.
The Rams' Danny Ryan singled to lead off the Glenbard East fourth inning.
Vichio aided his own cause with a ringing double to left, and Ryan tied the game at 1-1 on D.J. Spears' sacrifice fly.
Vichio had able support from his defense as his infielders turned a pair of double plays to thwart two Saints' threats.
"(Vichio) threw his heart out today," Glenbard East coach Joel Pelland said. "He didn't have his best stuff with his off-speed (pitches). He put us in a position to win. That's all I can ask for."