There was a time where St. Charles East's Brannon Barry wasn't sure if he wanted to play baseball his senior year.
"I'll be honest with you -- last year after we got done with state (third-place finish), I was thinking what better way to go out on a baseball career," said Barry, who will attend Illinois State on a football scholarship this fall. "I've always been a football player first.
"Then you sit for a couple weeks and what I told myself is I've been playing the game since I was 5," he added. "At first, I didn't want to play (baseball) because I wanted to put on weight for college but this is the last year I'll play baseball in my life."
The Saints are happy to have him.
Barry went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, 3 RBI and a stolen base to help lead the Saints (17-8, 11-6) to a 14-3, 6-inning Upstate Eight Conference River Division triumph over host St. Charles North (16-7, 10-5) Thursday afternoon.
With the win -- their eighth straight over the North Stars dating back to May of 2012 -- the Saints swept the 3-game cross-town series for the second consecutive season.
"Our kids came out focused trying to get this third game and finally pull off the sweep that we've been looking for (this season)," said Saints coach Len Asquini.
St. Charles East staked senior right-hander Michael Boehmer (5-2) to an early lead thanks to a 4-run second that featured a 2-out, 2-run single off the bat of senior Alex Abate and Barry's 2-run double that hit the base of the fence in straightaway center.
"Those were big," said Asquini. "There were a bunch of those at-bats today. We did some good things with two outs, two strikes, moving the ball and pushing it through the infield."
The Saints, who finished with 13 base hits, added 9 runs over the final 3 frames, keyed by Jake Asquini's (2-for-3, 2 RBI) 2-run, fourth-inning single, Ben Smith's RBI single in the fifth, and a 2-run, sixth-inning single from pinch-hitter Max Powers.
"There were plenty of guys we could talk about that had real good at-bats for us," said Asquini. "I thought we did a really, really good job at the plate today and on the bases, too."
Boehmer went the distance, scattering 5 hits while fanning 6 -- including striking out the side to end the game.
"In the beginning of the game, I was a little wild," said Boehmer. "I hit three guys which is unusual for me. Late in the game, I got the deuce (curveball) working."
"Boehmer was tough on the mound," said Asquini. "In the first two innings, they had leadoff doubles that don't score. Those are situations where you figure they're going to get a run. For us to get out of that with nothing shows how tough he was."
Barry, who also made a diving catch in center field to rob Frankie Farry of a base hit in the third, was happy to be a part of the celebratory scene afterward.
"When it came down to it, I had to come out (for baseball)," said Barry. "I'm really glad I did."
Jack Dennis and Joe Kuczek had run-scoring hits for the North Stars, who struggled on the basepaths and on the mound as 4 pitchers combined for 8 walks and a hit batsman.
"The first inning really made a difference," said North Stars coach Todd Genke. "We made an out at home plate with nobody out. A guy ran through a stop sign and that really set the tone in a negative way.
"I'm very disappointed in how we pitched. I take a lot of pride in how we pitch and we didn't pitch very well today. I'm really soul searching because for us to come out and just sort of go through the motions today is shocking to me.
"The beauty is we're still right in the middle of this thing (conference race)," added Genke. "We've still got Batavia for three and they've got to play Geneva. But we certainly stubbed our toe in this series and it's disappointing."