The semifinals of the St. Charles East regional turned into a chance for bragging rights for both the Upstate Eight Conference River and the Tri-Cities Wednesday in St. Charles.
St. Charles East and Geneva earned the right to talk, the Saints doing it with their gloves and pitching in a 7-0 win over No. 1 seed St. Charles North, and Geneva using its bats to outslug No. 3 seed Batavia 9-7.
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The fifth-seeded Saints (18-12) and No. 10 Vikings will meet at 4 p.m. Thursday for the regional title and a spot in the final eight of the Phil Lawler Summer Classic next week at Benedictine University and North Central College.
It would be the Vikings' first trip to the summer state tournament while the Saints -- fresh off a third-place state finish this spring -- are trying for their second summer state appearance in the last four years.
"It's good for the conference, it's good on all kinds of levels," said Geneva coach Matt Hahn, whose team reached the regional title game two years ago and lost to Machesney Park Harlem. "That's a goal of ours right now to get there (to state)."
Both offenses came alive in Game 2, combining for 26 hits and 16 runs.
There were plenty of stars for both teams: Micah Coffey was 3-for-4, and Canaan Coffey, Jake Piechota (2 doubles, 2 RBI), Andrew Seigler and Jeremy Schoessling all had 2 hits for Batavia. Sean Townsend went 1-for-1 with 3 walks.
Geneva countered with Ben Chally going 3-for-4 with a double and 2 RBI, and 2-hit games from Matt Guenther, Jack Wassel and Nick Porretto.
Chally was just as important for Geneva with his three innings of relief. After the Bulldogs scored in each of the first five innings, Chally put up goose eggs in the final two to save the win for Garrett Davis.
Pitching is somewhat new to Chally, who threw mostly fastballs while mixing in a curve and change-up.
"I just picked up pitching this summer," Chally said. "It's fun, it's a different position. We have a couple kids back (John Swiderski and Riley Perry) from previous teams who are helping us out."
Like Chally, Ryan Olson pitched well in relief for the Bulldogs, holding Geneva scoreless over the final three innings. But the damage already was done, a 7-run fourth inning for the Vikings that saw the Bulldogs commit an error to let two runs score on Brandon Evert's suicide squeeze, and Wassel cap the uprising with a bases-clearing double to deep center field.
Geneva went from down 5-2 to up 9-5 and held on from there.
"We talk about never giving up a big inning, obviously didn't do it that inning," Batavia coach Matt Holm said. "It's a little bit of a sign to our second tier of pitchers. Their legs were failing them, they were tired, they were leaving the ball up. You can't do that. Geneva is always a good-hitting team."
In the opener, junior Kyle Cook pitched a gem for the Saints, going the distance and allowing just 4 hits and no walks while striking out three. He threw first-pitch strikes to 22 of the 27 hitters he faced.
Cook did all that in his first start for the Saints, though he has been starting for his DuPage Training Academy travel team.
"I wanted to come out here and show them what I had," Cook said. "Just spotting my fastball and my curve ball was dropping hard and dropping in wherever I wanted it to go."
"What a performance," Saints coach Len Asquini said. "He was super."
The Saints jumped ahead with two runs without a hit in the third inning. Back-to-back infield errors put the Saints in business, and after a passed ball plated one run, Austin Regelbrugge's groundout scored another.
The score remained 2-0 until the fifth when the Saints plated a pair of insurance runs. Regelbrugge's double brought in Alex Abate who had singled, and Jake Clodi's groundout scored Ryan Schreiner for a 4-0 lead.
Jake Milosch and Abate both had 2 hits. Abate also made a pair of phenomenal plays in one of his first games at third base while Adam Rojas played stellar defense behind the plate.
"Alex had a great day at third base," Asquini said. "We wanted to throw him in there and see what happens. Maybe he found himself a spot. All the way around we were pretty solid."
Sophomore Jack Lambert pitched the first four innings for the North Stars (20-7) and didn't allow an earned run. Carson Schmitt's 2 hits were half of his team's total.
"We had a rough spring and I thought the guys were resilient all summer," North Stars coach Todd Genke said. "I thought a lot of the guys made big strides improving their game. I think we are stronger behind the pate, stronger in the outfield, I think offensively we are just a better team. Overall I'm very happy winning 20 games in the summer and I'm proud of how hard the guys worked."