Baseball: St. Francis ends historic Fenton baseball season
It was far from a mortal sin for the Fenton baseball team to surrender a run on the road in the bottom of the first inning against St. Francis.
Unfortunately for the Bison baseball team, St. Francis would proceed to send seven more men to the plate.
Five scored as the Spartans ultimately collected 5 extra-base hits -- all doubles -- in the fateful first inning.
St. Francis never looked back, ending a historic Fenton season with an 11-4 victory in a Class 3A sectional semifinal Wednesday afternoon in Wheaton.
Ridgewood, the Spartans' Metro Suburban rival, stunned top-seeded Montini 13-10 in Lombard in the other semifinal.
As a result, the second-seeded Spartans (18-10), who defeated fourth-seeded Ridgewood twice in regular-season play, will host the Rebels Friday in the championship game on St. Francis' campus.
Fenton, the third seed, had its campaign close at 15-6.
"That set the tone for the rest of the game," Fenton coach Dave Schwabe said of the Spartans' 6-run first inning. "We had to get out of the first few innings to hang with these dudes. We knew they were a good hitting team and had to keep the score low."
St. Francis leadoff man Noah Kuchler began the Spartans' first with a double; he later scored on a Max McCallum groundout.
TJ McMillen, Rocco Tenuta, Adam Wiborg and John Lilly then followed with doubles in a five-at-bat sequence.
"Once I led it off with a double, the dugout got hyped," said Kuchler, who had the Spartans' final RBI with a two-out, fourth-inning single. "(My teammates) got a bunch of energy, and energy leads to hits."
Suddenly, St. Francis starter Bennett Wordekemper began the second with a 6-0 cushion.
"They helped me a lot in giving me a buffer out there," said Wordekemper, who pitched four and two-thirds to earn the victory. "I just tried to go out there and shut them down."
Fenton would also score all 4 of its runs with two down.
Antonio Vidales' single brought the Bison within 6-1 in the top of the second.
But the Spartans would then threaten the slaughter rule as Lilly, who collected 4 hits for St. Francis from the No. 8 slot in the lineup, plated another pair with his second double of the game in the bottom of the fourth.
"The two-out hits definitely help because it keeps an inning going," Lilly said.
Fenton sophomore Nik Hollis' run-scoring double averted an abbreviated contest, and Massimo Cortez had a 2-run single to close out the scoring in the top of the seventh
The Bison enjoyed a watershed season.
"We won 10 games in a row coming into this game," Schwabe said. "We are the first team in Fenton history to win a regional."