Locked in a tense 1-run regional semifinal with Glenbard East through five innings, St. Charles North turned to the bunt to break the game open.
Three different North Stars bunted for a hit and three more laid down sacrifice bunts as small ball played a big part of the North Stars' 10-5 win and their 8-run sixth inning.
"It's another weapon teams have to defend," North Stars coach Todd Genke said. "Some of those bunts I don't think I could have rolled them out there better. We work so hard on that and I'm sure other teams do too but we definitely put a lot of time in. When the wind is blowing in like this, you are in a regional game, you have to be able to do those things. It was nice to see us execute it when we needed to."
Third seed St. Charles North (22-11) will play the winner of Thursday's Glenbard North-Glenbard West matchup for the regional championship Saturday. No. 14 seed Glenbard East's season ends at 18-18.
St. Charles North, 16-4 at one point this year, went 5-8 in its last 13 games but has new life now and its ace Cory Wright ready for the championship game.
"At the end we hit a little speed bump but we're back," winning pitcher Frankie Farry said. "Ten runs, that's big time for us. We have to keep that going forward."
Clinging to a 2-1 lead going to the bottom of the sixth, catcher Kyle Khoury started the inning with a bunt single. After Nick Drawant was hit by a pitch to end the day for Rams starter Jimmy MacDonald, Carson Schmitt bunted for a hit to load the bases with no outs.
Freshman shortstop Zach Mettetal singled over a drawn-in infield to drive home two runs. Luke Corcoran followed with the third bunt of the inning, and this time the Rams threw the ball down the right-field line to score another run and put the North Stars up 5-1.
"We work on bunting a lot," Khoury said. "We haven't really been executing lately but it showed there. We got it done. Small ball will do that (defensive mistakes) to you."
Wright laced a 2-run double down just inside the right-field line, Joe Kuczek plated another run with a groundout and the final two runs of the 8-run inning came in on a Rams throwing error.
The big inning made the Rams' 4-run rally in the top of the seventh too little, too late.
The North Stars scored their only other 2 runs in the first inning on Kuczek's RBI single and a bases-loaded walk to Riley Coomes.
MacDonald (4-4) threw 29 pitches to get through the first, then settled down to hold the North Stars scoreless the next four.
The Rams cut the North Stars' lead to 2-1 on Joey Moore's two-out single to plate Michael Sebby in the second. But they left runners at first and third in that inning, and also stranded runners at second and third the next two innings.
"It wasn't for a lack of approach or swinging at bad pitches," Glenbard East coach Joel Pelland said. "We squared up some balls we hit right at them. We squared up some balls they just made plays on. You have to give credit where credit is due."
"If somebody gets on you just have to fight through it and make some quality pitches and let your defense work," Farry said.
Farry improved to 5-3, relying on his fastball and change while struggling at times to locate his curve. Wright pitched to two batters in the sixth, leaving the Kansas State-bound junior ready for Saturday.
Sebby and Moore both had 3 hits for the Rams whose senior class came a long way from only winning 4 games as freshmen.
"Could not be more proud of each one of these guys on the team," Pelland said. "From where the senior class started as freshmen to go 18-18 competing in every game except a few with the schedule we played? It's nothing but a credit to the players."