Baseball: Zitella's 2 homers lift St. Charles East as St. Charles community honors Kevin White
Jake Zitella took matters into his own hands.
Blasting 2 homers, Zitella powered St. Charles East to a 4-2 win over St. Charles North in DuKane Conference action at North Saturday.
The Saints won two of three in the series. But the game Saturday was just a small part of the story.
St. Charles Mayor Laura Vitek proclaimed Saturday as Kevin White day.
White, a 3-year starter for the North Stars as a pitcher and second basemen, was killed in a car crash Aug. 16, 2022.
White, a 2021 graduate of North, had played one year at Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater.
North Stars coach Todd Genke's emotions ran high as the teams gathered after the game for a ceremony and to retire White's No. 20 jersey.
"Kevin was a very good player," said Genke. "He was a better person. He was a tremendous human being on and off the field, He played the game with tremendous grit and passion. He left his legacy. He will be truly missed. I was truly blessed to coach him.
"I was happy he want to Whitewater because I went there. He was so good with kids at our summer camps. He is on God's team now."
Jeremy Lambel was a senior when White was a junior.
"He was an insanely good pitcher and second baseman," said Lambel. "He was such a respectful and humble person. He made people laugh. I was in awesome disbelief when I heard the news. No parent should have to bury their kids."
The St. Charles North baseball program presented the White family with his No. 20 jersey.
"It was an emotional, pretty crazy day," said Kevin's brother John.
The Kevin White Foundation is awarding scholarships to high school players looking to play at the NCAA Division III level in future years. Over $175,000 has been raised for the scholarships.
The inaugural Kevin White Foundation golf outing is July 10 at Royal Fox Golf Course in St. Charles.
Kevin's parent Elaina and Bud Meiners were grateful for the support.
"The community support has been outstanding, said Bud Meiners. "Kevin was a giver. We want to continue his legacy with scholarships."
As for the game, Zitella led off with a solo homer to give the Saints (19-2, 13-1) a quick 1-0 lead.
The Illinois-bound senior bombed a 2-run homer in the fifth. He also had 6 assists and started 2 double plays.
"The first homer was off a change-up and second was off a fastball," said Zitella. "I took the first loss of the series personally. It was nice to win last two. I take pride in my defense at third,"
Longtime St. Charles East coach Len Asquini, who is retiring at the end of the year, has high praise for his third basemen.
"Jake is certainly one of the greatest player I have ever coached," said Asquini. "He has been outstanding for three years. He carried us today."
The Saints also got great pitching performances from starter Caden Cotteleer and relievers Ethan Flint and James Brennan.
Cotteleer, the winning pitcher, pitched 3 2/3 innings and gave up 1 run on 3 hits.
Flint gave up an unearned run without allowing a hit in 2 innings of work.
Brennan registered the last 4 outs to earn the save.
The North Stars (16-6-1, 10-4) scored in the third on a run-scoring single by Jake Kujak and tallied a run in the sixth on a wild pitch.
"We battled until the 21st out," said Genke. "I was proud of our effort. We had our chances and opportunities. Jake is a great player for East."