Baseball: Buono, St. Charles East shut out Batavia
Kyle Hayes has been catching teammate Dominic Buono for a few seasons, and he sees a presence on the mound "that people really take notice of."
Buono, a St. Charles East senior pitcher and Wisconsin-Platteville recruit, struck out six and surrendered no runs over 4⅔ innings to pace St. Charles East to a 5-0 baseball victory over Batavia on Wednesday.
"I just love the way he works ... the pace he works at is awesome," Hayes said of Buono. " ...[Teams] try to slow him down and get him out of his rhythm. You saw it for his whole outing, he was pretty much untouchable because he works fast, stays within himself and doesn't try to do too much.
"He's a pitcher. We see a lot of high school guys that are throwers, but he's a pitcher."
Buono, who surrendered just 2 hits, wastes little time between pitches. Instead he waits just a few moments before getting into his stretch and firing the ball toward the plate.
"I just work fast and stay in my mechanics," Buono said. "I don't like getting out of my mechanics and [then] I think too much."
Batavia (5-13, 5-12 DuKane Conference) celebrated its Senior Night and honored eight seniors: Zach Mieszala, Daniel McCoy, Ethan Long, Luke Ostrander, Alex Faron, Tyler Klein, Holter Gette and Mason Kruse.
The Saints (15-7-1, 9-7-1), meanwhile, have bounced back from getting swept by St. Charles North last week to take the first two games of the series with the Bulldogs.
"We kind of got ourselves back together," Buono said. "We just got swept by North ... but we got together as a team, played well today. Everyone played really well."
It started with Buono's performance on the mound.
"He's been pitching well all year," Saints coach Len Asquini said of Buono. "We're real happy. His pace today, he got after it and he attacked the strike zone, like he's been doing; but, it just seemed a little bit quicker his pace today."
The Saints struck first on an RBI single by Seth Winkler in the third inning. After a groundout, Winkler stole third. The pickoff by Henry Saul skipped into the outfield, allowing Winkler to score for a 2-0 Saints' lead. Justin Sowa and Hayes followed with walks before Aaron Ceralde reached on a fielder's choice to bring in Sowa to make it 3-0.
In the fifth, Saints senior Jack Lawson reached on a single to precede Winkler's eventful at-bat. After a dropped third strike skipped behind Saul, it allowed Lawson to run to third while Winkler reached first and stretched the play to second. Lawson, with heads-up baserunning, advanced home after the throw went to second to make it 4-0 Saints.
Saints sophomore Jake Zitella hit an RBI single in the sixth to round out the scoring.
"The only way to win in baseball is to put runs up on the board," Hayes said of the solid team-wide base running effort. "If we play hard and we run the bases -- pretty much have fun -- and put the pressure on them, most times, especially in high school ball, we're going to come out on the positive side of things."
Dominick LeBlanc relieved Buono with 4 strikeouts and the save, allowing just 1 walk. Batavia squandered solid scoring opportunities with multiple runners in scoring position in the second and fifth innings, but couldn't generate the timely hit to bring them in.
Faron, who spent time implementing a sinker into his pitching arsenal, struck out 5 in the loss.
"I was real impressed with the first few innings that he threw," Batavia coach Alex Beckmann said. "He looked really good, was on and was pounding the zone. [Eventually], just fell behind some hitters and we gave them some free passes. A good team like that is going to take advantage of some things that we kind of gave them there ... overall, Alex threw really well and we just need to put the ball in play."
"I think it's always a special day [to play], especially now, because COVID took away a lot of sports opportunities for kids my age and kids younger than me," Faron said. "So, yeah, I definitely [would say] it's a special night. There's definitely kind of a different atmosphere around Senior Night all the time because it's your last time, usually, playing on the home field ... great atmosphere tonight. It was really great."