St. Charles East's baseball team had the right person in the batter's box at the right time Friday afternoon.
Senior cleanup hitter Ben Smith lashed a clutch 3-run double a few feet inside the left-field line to snap a 1-1 fifth-inning deadlock and the Saints (5-2, 2-1) held on for a 4-2 Upstate Eight Conference crossover triumph over Bartlett (2-4, 1-2) in St. Charles.
Smith, who had a game-winning, 2-run base hit in the seventh inning during the Saints' 2-1 win over South Elgin on Thursday, drove in all 4 runs against the Hawks.
"I was out in front my first two at-bats," said Smith. "I kept my hands back just long enough to keep it inside the left-field line. I thought it was hooking (foul) but it looked like it stopped hooking right at the end there."
Smith looked at his third at-bat of the game as an opportunity to make amends for the previous plate appearance when his fly ball to short center turned into a double play as Hawks outfielder Mike Wick gunned down Brannon Barry at the plate.
"I had a chance to drive in Brannon in the third and I didn't come through," said Smith. "I was trying to make up for it."
St. Charles East grabbed an early 1-0 lead on Smith's RBI bloop single to right before Bartlett answered with a second-inning run courtesy of Mike Pfaender's run-scoring single.
Pfaender (2-for-3) provided another RBI single in the sixth to make it 4-2 and chase Saints junior southpaw starting pitcher Austin Regelbrugge (2-0).
"We tried to get him through that last inning there but I think he was pretty spent," Saints coach Len Asquini said of Regelbrugge. "We got him into a little bit of trouble with some of our miscues (4 errors) out there but he battled well."
Junior right-handed Jake Milosch fanned 3 of the 8 batters he faced over the last 2 frames to pick up the save.
"Milosch came in and did a real nice job," said Asquini. "It was a well-pitched game."
Milosch escaped a seventh-inning jam thanks in part to senior catcher Adam Rojas picking off a Bartlett runner at first with 1 out and runners at first and second in the seventh.
"Me and Adam have done that for all four years," said Smith, who applied the tag at first base for the second out of the inning. "We've got our communication down. The kid got a little big on his secondary (lead). I saw him leaning a little bit on the first pitch so I gave Adam (Rojas) the sign and he put it right on the bag. It was a great play by Adam."
"It was a huge play," said Asquini. "It changed the momentum right there."
The Saints, who committed 4 errors, entered the contest having scored just 2 runs over their last 21 innings.
"Defensively, we're going to try and clean up some of that stuff," said Asquini. "Offensively, I thought we had some nice approaches and hit the ball hard but they found a lot of their gloves. It's all good for us. Our heads are above water. With the pitching that we've seen, we'll get it down."
Sophomore Tripp Harris (0-1) suffered the loss for the Hawks in his varsity debut, giving up 4 runs on 5 hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Offensively, Wick had 3 of the 8 hits for the Hawks, who stranded 11 runners.
"We had numerous chance and we failed to take advantage," said Hawks coach Chris Pemberton. "You never want to lose a game but it was a quality game. We turned two double plays. It's our sixth game of the year so we're still gaining confidence."