Baseball: Ryder’s clutch hit lifts St. Charles North past South Elgin in 9-inning thriller

St. Charles North’s baseball team waited until the last possible moment for the big hit Wednesday evening.

As darkness set in, Colin Ryder’s 2-out RBI single sent Jack Spotts across the plate with the winning run during the North Stars’ 3-2, 9-inning Class 4A sectional semifinal victory over 12th-seeded South Elgin (14-14) in St. Charles.

“I’ve had game-winning hits before but not in high school,” said Ryder, who went 3 for 4 with a walk and pair of RBI. “This one was different.”

After Mike Buono was hit by a pitch, courtesy runner Spotts advanced to second on a wild pitch. Following a pop foul for the second out, Ryder lined an 0-1 pitch to right field, sending the top-seeded North Stars (27-5) to Saturday’s 11 a.m. sectional championship clash with No. 3 York (29-9), which defeated Lake Park, 8-1 in 8 innings, during Wednesday’s other semifinal game.

“I love these guys and don’t want it to end,” said Ryder. “It was an 0-1 curveball — I had seen a lot of those all day, so I was kind of sitting on it.”

Ryder’s walk-off single kept the game from being extended into a Thursday afternoon conclusion.

“He’s been doing that more often — hitting the ball the other way,” said North Stars coach Todd Genke. “That was a huge spot.”

Senior right-hander Josh Caccia recorded the well-deserved victory, tossing a 4-hit complete game with no walks and a career-best 14 strikeouts.

“I felt great pitching but now that the adrenaline is wearing off, I’m pretty tired,” said Caccia. “It was a great battle. They put up a great fight.”

Caccia, who retired the first 10 batters he faced — 6 on strikeouts — also fanned 7 of the final 10 batters during his 107-pitch outing.

“Josh Caccia — he pretty much put us on his back tonight and said, ‘we’re not losing this game,’” said Genke. “I call the pitches and I swear he hit 98% of the spots that I called. It had nothing to do with me, but it showed you how efficient and effective he was.

“He has been incredible for us the last three years, and for him to win a game like that — incredible. There was a lot of pressure and difficult situations. It was very impressive for a young man.”

St. Charles North grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first on Ryder’s RBI single — a sky-high pop fly that eluded South Elgin’s fielders.

Ty Heimbuch’s RBI single in the third extended the North Stars’ lead to 2-0.

South Elgin trimmed the deficit in half in the fourth.

After Colin Tuftedal was hit by a pitch, junior Justin Pold’s RBI double to right-center — the team’s first hit — made it 2-1 before Pold’s 2-out RBI double in the sixth tied it at 2-2.

From there, South Elgin junior reliever Aiden Bernau (5 2/3 IP, 10 strikeouts) and Caccia locked in for an ongoing battle that continued until the bottom of the ninth.

“They played well enough to hang around and had a chance to win the game,” Genke said of the Storm. “I don’t have many nerves left.

“We get another two days with these guys — which is awesome.”

Storm starter Caleb Williams allowed 2 runs on 5 hits through 3-plus innings.

“Both Caleb and Aiden threw well,” said Storm coach Jim Kating. “Their pitcher threw well, too.

“We’re not supposed to be here. I’m not happy with the outcome, but I’m very happy with how we battled and got after it.”

St. Charles North’s Josh Caccia pitches during a Class 4A St. Charles North Sectional semifinal game against South Elgin on Wednesday, May 29, 2024. Sandy Bressner/Shaw Local News Network
South Elgin’s Caleb Williams pitches during a Class 4A St. Charles North Sectional semifinal game against St. Charles North on Wednesday, May 29, 2024. Sandy Bressner/Shaw Local News Network
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