St. Charles East came into its three-game series with St. Charles North looking up at the North Stars in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division race, but the Saints are quickly closing that gap.
Austin Regelbrugge lined an opposite field single, scoring Alex Abate with the winning run of a 3-2, eight-inning victory Wednesday night at Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.
While both St. Charles schools are chasing Batavia, with wins in the first two games of the series St. Charles East (16-8, 12-6) has pulled even with St. Charles North (16-6, 10-4) -- though they still trail in the all-important loss column. The teams conclude the three-game series Thursday at St. Charles North.
There's been plenty of fireworks in the first two games. Reid Olson started the winning rally in the eighth with a one-out single.
After Abate hit into a fielder's choice, Brannon Barry singled to move Abate to second with two outs. Regelbrugge laced the first pitch he saw from Cory Wright into right field, and Abate scored without a play at the plate.
"It was a great team win," Regelbrugge said. "The guys before me did a great job getting on base. I was just looking fastball first pitch and he gave it to me right there. Just tried to let my hands stay on top of the ball and put something past the infield and get a run and win the game."
Wright was locked in a battle with fellow lefty Adam Eck through seven innings. Eck exited after striking out eight and allowing 2 walks, 5 hits and 1 earned run in his seven innings.
Kyle Cook picked up the win in relief. He allowed a leadoff single in the top of the eighth but the runner was doubled off on a fly ball to left.
Joe Kuczek singled and took second on a wild pitch. Cook stranded him there by catching Nick Drawant looking at strike three.
"Adam Eck threw super for seven innings," Saints coach Len Asquini said. "Kyle Cook got in a little jam and worked his way out of that. We pitched well and played good defense."
Regelbrugge's game-winning hit was his second of the game. He also drilled an RBI single that tied the game at 2-2 in the fourth inning.
"With two outs the approach is get the next guy up," Asquini said of the winning rally. "Brannon Barry did a real nice job fighting off a tough pitch with two strikes to get on base and get the next guy up. Alex got a pitch he knew he could take the opposite way and made an adjustment to his swing and popped it that way for the win. It was an awesome ending."
St. Charles North took a 2-0 lead in the fourth. Kuczek led off with a double and Drawant dropped a perfect bunt to put runners at the corners with no outs.
A double steal brought in the first run, and John Legare made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly to right.
Wright retired the first 9 Saints before his defense let him down in the fourth. Olson reached on an error and took second on Abate's bunt single. A wild pickoff attempt by the catcher sailed into center to score the first run before Regelbrugge's RBI single tied the game at 2.
It stayed that way until the eighth as Wright threw 7 2/3 innings allowing just 1 earned run, 5 hits and 1 walk.
"Cory threw an outstanding game," said Brett Wikierak, filling in for North Stars coach Todd Genke. "Very exciting hard-fought battle. It came down to a couple plays here or there. I tip my hat to them, they played a good ballgame.
"We've got to bounce back and get it done tomorrow. We've got to come out ready to go."