With a strong crosswind blowing from left to right all afternoon, it was a day when anything hit in the air could be an adventure.
When St. Charles East senior Delaney Devor hit a fly ball toward deep right with the bases loaded and the game against Bartlett tied at 9-9 in the bottom of the seventh, the result was expectedly adventuresome.
The ball caromed off the outfielder's glove and fell on the ground, allowing pinch runner Hannah Cozzi to come across with the game-winning run during the Saints' wild 10-9 Upstate Eight Conference crossover victory Thursday in St. Charles.
"The only ball that I felt didn't carry was the last hit of the game," said Saints coach Jarod Gutesha, whose team finished with 14 hits -- 6 of them for extra bases. "It kind of hung up there and may have surprised the girl who was out there.
"Off the bat, I thought it was going to be over her head for a home run to win the game. Obviously, it worked our way and the ball hit the ground and we snuck out another one."
It marked the second consecutive 10-run outburst for the Saints (14-3, 5-1), who escaped with a 10-8 win over St. Charles North on Wednesday,
"We got the lead but both yesterday and today they came back on us and made it interesting," said Gutesha.
The Saints enjoyed a torrid start, grabbing a 5-0 lead just six batters into the bottom of the first.
Devor's RBI double and senior Rylee Stout's 2-run homer into the teeth of the wind made it 3-0 before sophomore Maddy Stout's 2-run inside-the-park home run extended the lead to 5-0.
"I just kept running," said the younger Stout of her first career inside-the-park home run.
Maddie Candre (2 for 3) capped the first inning with an RBI single.
Trailing early, the Hawks (11-6-1, 4-3) began their comeback with a run in the second on Annamarie Bucaro's RBI single and 3 more in the third highlighted by Taylor Rotondo's 2-run single.
After tying it at 6-6 on Charlotte Linnartz' 2-run home run, Bartlett grabbed a 7-6 lead on Janelle Ulaszek's RBI single in the fourth.
"The girls don't give up," said Hawks coach Jim Wolfsmith. "It wasn't just one inning. We got a couple here, we got a couple there. Pretty soon it was 6-6 and then we went up 7-6 and you knew it was going to be one of those endings because of the conditions and the talent of both teams."
Paige Ligocki led off the Saints' 3-run fifth with her third home run in two days and bloop RBI singles from Sara Campagna and Devor made it 9-7.
Bartlett answered with a pair of runs in the seventh, highlighted by a 2-out, game-tying RBI single from Elisabeth DiNuzzo that plated freshman courtesy runner Bianca Natali.
The Saints began their winning rally in the bottom half of the frame with back-to-back, 2-out singles by Megan Daly and Sarah Kreiner.
Maddy Stout, who went 3 for 4 with 2 RBI, battled the conditions and started a pair of double plays with catches in left field.
"It was hard to read," she said. "The wind was holding the ball in the air and moving it all around."
"When it's blowing the way it did, it causes all kinds of craziness," said Wolfsmith. "They hit a lot of fly balls and it caused a lot of chaos."