Bartlett gets past Shah, St. Charles North
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St. Charles North pitcher Ankur Shah was dealing, but the Bartlett baseball team had good luck.
The No. 7 seed Hawks got just 3 hits off Shah but only needed a fifth-inning run to defeat the No. 10 seed North Stars 1-0 in the Class 4A Bartlett regional semifinal on Friday.
The Hawks (15-14) will seek their second straight regional title when they take on No. 18 seed Hoffman Estates, which upset No. 2 Batavia Thursday, in the championship game Saturday at noon. The winner advances to next week's St. Charles East sectional.
Bartlett's bats rarely hit a hard ball on Friday, and the winning run started with a one-out bloop, infield single by Jake Barrutia. A passed ball and wild pitch on Shah's next two pitches sent Barrutia to third base, and Justin Blanchett finished a 9-pitch at-bat with a sacrifice fly to right field.
"We know we're going to face quality opponents in the postseason, and (Shah) was the epitome of that," said Bartlett coach Chris Pemberton. "Hats off to him. We were fortunate to get that run."
Pemberton had called on a 2-1 count for a suicide squeeze, but Blanchett's bunt went foul. On a 3-2 count, Blanchett fouled three straight pitches before hitting the sac fly.
"I was just trying to stay alive," Blanchett said. "I just knew I had to put the ball in play, and if I hit one to the outfield we were going to score."
The UIC-bound Shah (6-3) finished the game striking out 6 and not issuing a walk, and 54 of his 79 pitches were for strikes. Bartlett pitcher Colin Nowak (3-3) threw a 5-hit shutout with 5 strikeouts and 2 walks, and he threw 77 of his 120 pitches for strikes.
"Their kid was good, but I thought I outpitched him today," Shah said. "But they got a break, and that's baseball. That's what makes baseball such a great game."
The Hawks had just two baserunners reach scoring position all game, but the North Stars (19-18) had runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings. The North Stars got a two-out double by Ryan Thomas (2-for-3) in the top of the first, and a two-out single by John LeGare followed by an error and a walk loaded the bases in the second.
Thomas hit a one-out single in the third and advanced to second base on a Jack Dennis groundout, but Nowak was able to pitch out of each situation.
"I'm very proud of my guys," said North Stars' coach Todd Genke. "We had chances to win, but we were unable to get that big hit. It just wasn't meant to be."
Hawks' leadoff batter Mike Wick was 2-for-3 at the plate.
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