Baseball: Wheaton North rides big comeback vs. St. Charles East
Wheaton North junior Logan Straube's personal take-aways go beyond the simplicity of wins and losses.
The Falcons have experienced a solid mixture of both throughout stretches of a regular season winding down in its final week at 15-15 overall and 10-10 in league play. Through it all, though, Straube and the Falcons have plenty to build on as a team for a playoff run and beyond.
"We play as a team and we lose as a team," Straube said following the Falcons' 7-4 comeback victory over St. Charles East on Monday. "If one person is doing good, then we're all doing good. We build off each other; that's what I've learned."
After succumbing to a 4-0 deficit through four innings, the Falcons found their spark through timely hits and taking advantage of defensive mistakes from St. Charles East, the outright DuKane Conference champions, to spoil senior night.
"Between our team chemistry and everything, we've learned if one person gets down, then we all get down," Straube continued. "But, I think we've built, from the beginning until now, we've become a stronger team overall."
The Saints (23-3, 18-2) took the seemingly comfortable lead on a two-run homer from James Brennan in the first inning and a two-run double from Nick Miller in the third; but were unable to sustain the momentum from the offensive spark and steady starting pitching from Jack McDermott.
In the fifth, the Falcons nabbed three runs on an RBI single from Straube, RBI double from Charlie Strutzel and a run scored after an error. The Saints staved off a potential game-tying run after all-state talent Jake Zitella caught Strutzel in a pickle in a rundown between home and third. Luke Bellini's popout ended the threat.
St. Charles East squandered runners at second and third in the bottom half of the inning, and the Falcons sustained their momentum with a four-run sixth inning.
Tyler O'Connell hit a game-tying RBI single. Straube followed with an RBI double for the 5-4 Falcons lead. Strutzel then popped a two-run home run for the insurance runs.
"I've had these scenarios before where it could be a 3-2 count with two outs, and we're down and need the runs," Strutzel said. "Sometimes, [I don't] get them, but tonight, it just happened to go our way.
St. Charles East went quietly the rest of the game, as Patrick Dillow struck out the side in the sixth and had two more, plus a lineout, to end the Saints' six-game winning streak.
" ... The defense really let us down a ton. A ton," Saints coach Len Asquini said. "Jack McDermott was really good on the mound, we had a chance to get him his first varsity victory with a four-run lead after we took him out. We just didn't hold on the mound and didn't hold defensively. Certainly, our offense did zero from that point on to help us."
The Saints had 14 seniors commemorating their final home game. It will also be Asquini's final regular season homestand as coach, as the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches' Association Hall of Famer will be retiring at season's end.
" ... For all these years, I want the best experience possible for the kids," Asquini said. "And, whatever that brings. Hopefully, it's a deep playoff run here coming up. It's a conference championship already. We want to finish this off strong and get a little momentum, especially after today ... those are always things that we want from this group. This is another good group for us."