Baseball: Caccia, St. Charles North blank Glenbard East

Todd Genke knows what his team is capable of.

After a shaky victory in Wednesday’s regional semifinal, the longtime St. Charles North baseball coach went back to the basics the past two days at practice in preparation for Saturday’s regional championship against Glenbard East.

“We went back to the fundamentals and talked about how important each and every pitch is,” Genke said. “We talked about each man to himself. Each man must be more prepared and have more situation awareness. We made some very uncharacteristic mistakes [on Wednesday], and it sounds generic, but when you get to this point of the season you sometimes lose sight of those fundamentals.”

His North Stars responded in a big way.

St. Charles North scored in four of five innings Saturday, including a home run from Jackson Spring, in a dominant 10-0 victory in five innings to win the Class 4A Addison Trail regional title.

The victory clinched the program’s first regional title since 2021, but was the 10th overall for Genke as head coach at St. Charles North. The North Stars advance to their own sectional Wednesday against South Elgin, a 5-0 winner over Batavia.

The victory also comes a year removed from dropping a regional title game to Tri-Cities rival Batavia, something that had not left the minds of the returning North Stars (27-5), including starting pitcher Josh Caccia.

The senior right-hander finished Saturday allowing just one hit (an infield hit), while striking out three in a five-inning, complete game shutout.

“There’s no doubt that last year definitely stung,” said Caccia, who also started last year’s regional title game. “This entire year I told myself that I was not going to lose in the regional championship. I think we all want to go a lot farther than this and it’s the only mindset to have right now.”

While several numbers stood out from Saturday’s decisive win, including 10 team walks – the last of which was issued to Jaden Harmon to end the game – maybe the most important number for the North Stars Saturday was 50.

After retiring the first 10 Glenbard East batters, Caccia’s pitch count through those five scoreless innings finished at just 50 pitches, making him an option to start Wednesday’s St. Charles North Sectional semifinal against South Elgin.

“If I was any other team, I’d be worried,” said Spring of Caccia being available Wednesday. “Every time he gets out there, he’s going to compete and give you everything he’s got. He pitches with a chip on his shoulder, and he doesn’t care who you are. You love going to battle with guys like that any day of the week.”

Caccia, who induced double plays in his final two innings, credited his defense for his confidence to go and throw strikes all Saturday morning.

“Knowing that I have guys behind me that can literally make just about any play for me lets me pitch freely,” Caccia said. “I know if I miss my spot a little bit, my defense is going to pick me up. Strikeouts, honestly, are just outs that usually cost you extra pitches, so if I can throw strikes and get quicker outs, I’ll always take that.”

Spring reached base and came around to score in all four of his plate appearances Saturday, finishing the day 2 for 2 with his home run, two walks, and an RBI. Colin Ryder added four RBIs, despite a 0 for 0 day at the plate (two walks, two sacrifice flies), and Ty Heimbuch also reached base in each of his four plate appearances (three walks and a triple) for the North Stars.

Chris Ludwig, who came on in relief to pitch for Glenbard East (19-13-2), had the Rams’ only hit in the season-ending loss.

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