Wheaton North heads to sectional final
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Wheaton North first baseman Tom Colletti was unaware that Bartlett pitching had allowed no runs on 5 hits in the postseason.
The only thing Colletti was aware of was he had to get the ball to the right side in the third inning with the wind blowing in and two men on.
Colletti helped put a snag in that impressive Bartlett pitching run when he smashed a two-out double to right field that knocked in 2 runs and capped a 4-run inning in No. 3 Wheaton North's 4-1 win over No. 7 Bartlett in a Class 4A St. Charles East sectional semifinal on Thursday.
The Falcons (27-8) advance to Saturday's sectional final at 11 a.m. to play the fourth-seeded host Saints, who were a 6-0 winner over Lake Park on Wednesday.
Wheaton North, which rallied behind back-to-back two-out RBI singles by Ryan Kent and Jacob Taschetta, took advantage of its only major opportunity and answered Bartlett's run in the top half of the third while Doug Hayes pitched strong, going the distance without an earned run. Of 96 pitches Hayes, who struck out 2 and walked 2, threw 63 for strikes and induced 13 groundouts and 6 flyouts to get the Falcons into the sectional final for the first time since 2010.
But the Falcons can also thank a good strategy with their barrage of hits to the right side as Colletti and company did their job.
"We were pretty much just trying to go right side because everything we were hitting to the left side was going to die in the wind and it was just getting pushed that way," said Colletti. "We had a couple nice hits down the line and found some green grass out there."
Kent and Taschetta each had a hit and run scored and found some of that grass out in right, while Colletti looked for a fastball after John Peltz walked in the previous at-bat.
"I was just sitting on a fastball, he had just thrown four balls to Peltz. I was just sitting on a fastball trying to go right side with it," Colletti said.
Ryan Karrick accounted for Bartlett's lone RBI when he grounded into a fielder's choice in the top half of the frame.
The Hawks (16-15) also had a chance in the second after Ben Havel (2-for-3) managed to reach third after a single to center took a funny hop and a walk by Colin Nowak put runners on first and third with nobody out.
But a double play at first on a liner caught by Colletti calmed Bartlett's threat in that frame and the Hawks couldn't get anyone in scoring position when they put runners on in the fourth, fifth and seventh.
Wheaton North didn't get a baserunner after its third-inning party.
"We just had the one opportunity and we just jumped on it," Falcons coach Dan Schoessling said. "It's always nice to see a two-out rally, and it just seems in the playoffs when you get chances you've got to capitalize, you've got to beat good pitching and that's what we did."
Coincidentally, the run Wheaton North allowed was its first of the postseason as well. And also coincidentally, Bartlett, which scored just 4 runs in three postseason games, goes down in the same fashion it took out Hoffman Estates and St. Charles North in winning its second-straight regional.
"As we learned in our success last week, one inning can make a difference and we benefited last week from having an inning where we took advantage of opportunities and made plays. Today it wasn't the case," said Hawks coach Chris Pemberton. "They put some balls in play, (we) made a couple of miscues and didn't make the most out of our opportunities and that was story, that one inning."
Colin Nowak (2-5), who allowed no runs on 4 hits last week against St. Charles North, was charged with 4 earned runs Thursday. He had 7 strikeouts.
Hayes, who improved to 4-3, had his fastball and changeup working well, especially his location on the changeup. The lefty was confident he could conclude matters with or without run support.
"I knew it'd be OK either way," Hayes said. "But getting those four runs was a nice lead for me, gave me a little more confidence. It was good."
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