Baseball: Reinke's walk-off hit stuns St. Charles East
Having already stranded 9 baserunners through the first 6 innings, St. Charles North's baseball team still had one last chance for redemption while trailing St. Charles East 4-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh Monday afternoon.
Loading the bases on back-to-back, 1-out singles from Josh Collins and Anthony Estrada, and a walk to Aidan Pieper, the North Stars (14-10, 9-6) faced another setback of sorts with a strikeout for the second out.
That set the stage for sophomore Parker Reinke, who lined a 2-run single on a 1-2 pitch, and when the ball got past the Saints' left fielder, it allowed Pieper to race home all the way from first with the winning run during the North Stars' 5-4, walk-off DuKane Conference triumph at St. Charles North.
"I was just trying to find the right pitch and square it up," said Reinke, who belted a long foul ball to left 3 pitches prior to his clutch base hit. "I just missed that one, but it was pretty much the same pitch in the same spot.
"I was looking to swing at anything that was close -- it just happened to be perfect."
North Stars coach Todd Genke was thrilled to see his team come through at the right time.
"Parker Reinke, for a sophomore, that's a big moment," said Genke. "We're very young. These kids have to believe the game is never over until the final out is recorded.
"I was just hoping to get one guy on base there in the seventh. With the wind blowing out like it is, you never know. We got a little charity there."
The Saints (15-4-1, 12-3) committed 4 errors, which also matched their hit total.
"They (North Stars) fought, and we gave them a little bit, and they fought and got the big hit -- and we made the big mistake out there," said Saints coach Len Asquini.
"We might be playing extra innings -- we still had to get another out -- and then who knows what goes on from there. We had some defensive miscues that hurt us and added to pitch counts."
Saints senior starting pitcher Nathan Hayes pitched 4-hit ball over the first 5 1/3 frames with 3 walks and 9 strikeouts (one earned run) before hitting the 105-pitch limit.
"He threw a great game," Asquini said of his right-hander, who worked himself out of a pair of jams, including a first-and-third, no-out situation in the opening inning, and a bases-loaded, 2-out spot in the fifth.
"I've got to give him (Hayes) credit, too," said Genke. "He bore down and came right at us. Kids kept coming back to the dugout saying, 'he's throwing nothing but fastballs, and I'm like, well, he's making you look pretty silly on those fastballs.'"
Sophomore Jackson Spring's RBI double in the fourth tied the game at 2-2, but the Saints answered with 2 runs of their own without a hit in the fifth, benefiting from back-to-back walks, a hit-by-pitch, and an infield throwing error.
"The ball didn't leave the infield and they scored two runs," said Genke, whose team won the series, 2-1. "We kind of haven't been able to get out of our own way, but this is a huge momentum boost for us. It was great to these see guys be resilient and win the series against a quality team."
The Saints are tied with Batavia (11-3) in the loss column heading into Tuesday's opener of a 3-game series.
"We're still in control," said Asquini. "We have to take care of business with Batavia."