Baseball: St. Charles North routs Lake Park for 15th straight win

St. Charles North’s school career strikeout record holder proved he doesn’t always need the punchout to prevail.

Senior right-hander Josh Caccia limited a potent Lake Park team to just 6 hits over 6 2/3 innings without issuing a walk during the North Stars’ 10-1 victory Wednesday afternoon in St. Charles.

Caccia recorded a strikeout during an impressive near-distance outing, as the North Stars (21-3-1, 14-1) posted their 15th consecutive victory and inched closer to clinching the DuKane Conference crown.

“He’s a great competitor,” North Stars coach Todd Genke said of Caccia. “When he’s on the mound, we feel very confident. He just comes right at you.

“I know he has done a lot of great things but that was one of his better performances. He makes teams beat him:”

Caccia was staked to an early 1-0 lead, as the North Stars capitalized on a pair of first-inning errors by the Lancers.

In the second, Jaden Harmon was hit by a pitch and Jack Spotts lined a single to right to put runners on the corners before a passed ball allowed Harmon to score and make it 2-0.

After the Lancers (20-6, 11-5) scored an unearned run in the fourth on Jayden Patel’s RBI infield single, the North Stars answered with 3 runs in the bottom half of the frame.

Lake Park southpaw Dylan Bergman nearly escaped a bases-loaded, nobody out situation before Jackson Spring hit an RBI single to left to make it 3-1.

Facing a reliever, senior catcher Mike Buono lined a 1-1 offering to left-center, driving in Jake Kujak and Spring to give the North Stars a 5-1 lead.

“The seniors stepped up,” said Genke. “Jackson Spring had a big knock and then Buono right behind him. That’s why they hit 1-2 in our order.”

The dugouts emptied briefly in the top of the sixth after Caccia’s pickoff throw to third caught Lake Park’s runner off guard and ended with a home-plate collision.

“I don’t think there was any intent behind it but in high school ball, you have to avoid a tag,” said Genke.

The North Stars put the game out of reach with a 5-run sixth that featured an RBI single from Buono and a 2-run single by Colin Ryder.

“It was a great win for our program,” said Genke. “We have a lot of confidence in the dugout right now. Fifteen wins in a row — it’s hard to do. I don’t care what level you’re playing at.”

Caccia did the rest, retiring the first 2 hitters in the seventh and going 0-2 on pinch-hitter Tommy Menchaca before a foul ball extended the North Stars’ ace to the 105-pitch limit, requiring Genke to bring in reliever Liam Ruane for the final out.

“I’d rather get 21 outs than strike out 10 and let up five runs,” said Caccia. “I knew they were a swinging team, so I tried to keep the ball low in the zone and let my fielders do the rest of the work for me.”

“He didn’t have his big strikeout day, but this just shows he has it all,” Buono said of Caccia.

Patel went 2 for 3 for the Lancers, who committed 5 errors.

“If we play our best, we can play with anybody,” said Lancers coach Dan Colucci. “We didn’t do that today.”

  St. Charles North’s Jackson Spring tags out Lake Park’s Derek Ittner on a pickoff from pitcher Josh Caccia in the first inning in a baseball game in St. Charles on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. John Starks/
  Lake Park’s Dylan Bergman pitches to St. Charles North in a baseball game in St. Charles on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. John Starks/
  St. Charles North’s Josh Caccia pitches to Lake Park in a baseball game in St. Charles on Wednesday, May 8, 2024. John Starks/
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