Thanks to a couple long lightning delays, it took over three hours for St. Charles East and Geneva to finish its regional championship game Thursday in St. Charles.
It took much less time for lightning to strike twice for the Saints.
The Saints scored once in the second and four times in both the third and fourth innings, punching their ticket to the final eight of the Phil Lawler summer state tournament with a convincing 9-1 win over the Vikings.
Less than two months after reaching the state tournament during the high school season, the Saints have added a summer berth — the first time in the tradition rich program’s history they have made it to state in both the spring and summer in the same year.
“There’s a lot of momentum from last year making a state run,” Saints junior Kyle Cook said. “Hopefully we can keep it going.”
The regional title marks the sixth for St. Charles East, following previous summer state appearances in 1977, 1990, 2001, 2005 and 2010. The Saints won state in 1977 and 2001.
St. Charles East (19-12) will play at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Benedictine University against Glenbrook North. The double-elimination, pool-play format continues until the championship game Thursday at both Benedictine and North Central.
Catcher Adam Rojas is the only regular position player who started on St. Charles East’s spring state team, but the new cast of Saints are quickly picking up where the spring team left off.
“It’s good, it’s the first time in history to make it in the summer right after,” junior Jake Rykoskey said. “None of us really know what we are doing but we’ll see.”
“We’re really happy for all the guys and it’s a great moment,” Saints coach Len Asquini said. “It’s a good stepping stone. We’ve come a long way.”
Cook threw a shutout Wednesday against No. 1 seed St. Charles North, and Mike Boehmer followed him to the mound Thursday with similar results: five innings, no walks and one run.
Boehmer’s effort capped a week of stellar pitching for the fifth-seeded Saints. On four consecutive days, the Saints held their four opponents to 0, 3, 0 and 1 run — 4 runs in 4 games.
“That was big for us,” Asquini said. “Our pitching staff really stepped up these four games. This is not easy. Four in a row like that really tests your pitching staff. And our defense played well these four games.”
Rykoskey started his big day with a single in the second. After a Rojas single and a wild pitch, Rykoskey scored the game’s first run on Alex Abate’s RBI groundout.
Rykoskey followed in the third inning with a 2-run single, and in the fourth he launched a ball to the fence in right-center that cleared the bases and put the Saints up 9-0. He finished 3-for-3 with 5 RBI.
The Saints got production up and down their lineup, with the No. 4 through No. 8 hitters all driving in at least one run.
“They are having great approaches at the plate,” Asquini said. “They are really locked in. We are working the counts. I’m real happy with that. That was something early in the year we were really poor at and it’s changed tremendously and we are getting great results.”
Ben Chally led 10th-seeded Geneva with a double, triple and its only RBI. Nate Montgomery and Ben Slattery also both had 2 hits.
“What I told the kids is don’t put stock in this game, put stock in the run we made, what we did all summer from where we started not playing really well, not doing the little things, to the last two weeks I thought we played very good baseball,” Geneva coach Matt Hahn said. “To improve on all those things with five sophomores on the varsity roster, I thought we improved immensely throughout the summer. I think we are going to surprise a lot of people in the spring.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.