Baseball: St. Charles East, Batavia tied for DuKane lead
Another page of the calendar has turned, and with it, here's hoping weather conditions improve for area high school baseball teams and chilled fans moving forward.
Despite the lower-than-normal temperatures, several Fox Valley teams are sizzling heading into the month of May.
St. Charles East (14-2-1, 11-1), which saw its 13-game winning streak end following Monday's 2-1 loss to Geneva (11-7, 8-4), begin a 3-game series at cross-town rival St. Charles North Thursday.
Seth Winkler's solo home run, the only hit off Geneva starter Daniel Strohm (6 2/3 innings, 12 strikeouts), gave the Saints an early 1-0 lead. Nathan Hayes fanned 7 in 6 scoreless innings on the mound for the Saints.
Geneva won the game in the seventh on Blake Stempowski's 2-run, walk-off base hit.
Heading into their final 9 conference games, the Saints are tied with Batavia (11-1) and 3 games ahead of the North Stars (12-8, 7-4) and Vikings.
"We have put ourselves in a pretty good position," said Saints coach Len Asquini, whose team finishes its DuKane slate with 3 games each against Batavia and Wheaton North.
"I like the ending stretch of our schedule against strong teams," said Asquini.
The Saints have been up to the challenge so far, thanks to solid starting pitching from Winkler, Hayes, and Gavin Sitarz, and plenty of offensive support from Jake Zitella, Clay Jensen, Dom LeBlanc, Carter Laskowski, A.J. Gaca, James Brennan, Mike Sharko, Ian Paprocki and Eddie Herrera.
"Our pitching has been strong," said Asquini. "We've been able to keep other teams at bay. Our defense has been pretty solid, and we've gotten offensive contributions from everybody."
Batavia (14-4-1) extended its winning streak to 12 with Monday' 10-0, 5-inning win over Wheaton Warrenville South. Eric Gonzalez belted a grand slam for the Bulldogs, while Anthony Johnson, Joe Kleist and Jacob Aseltine limited the Tigers to 2 hits.
Last Saturday, Batavia edged Wheaton Warrenville South, 2-1, behind 5 1/3 strong innings from Gonzalez and 1 2/3 innings of relief from sophomore Nate Nazos.
Last Friday, juniors Kiran Yasuda and Jackson Bland combined for a 2-hitter in the Bulldogs' 14-1 victory over the Tigers. Henry Saul, Austin Winslow, Eric Newberry, and Johnson had 2 hits apiece for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs begin a 3-game set with rival Geneva Thursday, and close out conference play against St. Charles East (May 10-12) and St. Charles North (May 14, 16-17).
Despite its third-place status, St. Charles North still controls its own conference destiny with 9 games against St. Charles East, Glenbard North and Batavia.
The North Stars defeated Lake Park 4-2 last Friday.
Streamwood coach Dan Jennings was thrilled with his team's performance during last week's 2-1 series win against perennial Upstate Eight Conference power South Elgin (12-3, 10-2), capped by Thursday's 6-3, extra-inning victory.
"This is a huge program win -- it just is," said Jennings. "You want to downplay some things, but they're (Storm) the top program in our conference.
"We're moving forward. Our saying is, 'burn the boats' -- we're going forward and never going backward."
"We know we're a good team," said Sabres junior catcher Nick Weaver, who also serves as the team's closer. "We scratch and claw. That's the way these games are going to be in May and June."
Weaver came away impressed with South Elgin senior Ben Karpowicz, who belted a grand slam in last week's 7-0 win over Streamwood (9-8, 8-5).
"He is a fun guy to watch," Weaver said of Karpowicz. "He's a great player who is committed to a D1 school in Illinois (Illinois State) for a reason."
Bartlett climbed back to the .500 mark at 9-9 overall, 8-5 in UEC play, following last week's series sweep of Larkin (3-14, 2-11).
The Hawks blanked the Royals 12-0 in 5 innings last Thursday behind Ryan Renella's 3-hit distance effort and 9 strikeouts.
Offensively, Patrick Nelson smacked his fourth home run of the season, backed by Josh Schuberth (2 for 4, 3 RBI). Javier Cervantes went 2 for 3 for the Royals.
Bartlett has received consistent season-long efforts from senior right-handed pitcher Kyle Swalley.
"He has made a lot of strides," said Hawks coach Christopher Baum. "He has taken the lead as our go-to guy on the mound. He's pitching with confidence."
Huntley (16-3) sits atop the Fox Valley Conference with a 9-1 mark following back-to-back, 7-1 victories over Cary-Grove last week.
Sophomore Malachi Paplanus struck out 5 in the Red Raiders' win over Cary-Grove last Thursday. Lucas Goldstein went 2 for 3 with an RBI double, while Brayden Bakes added a double and 2 RBI.
Joey Garlin went 2 for 3 with 4 RBI, and Andrew Ressler allowed 2 hits with 13 strikeouts in last Wednesday's victory.
The Red Raiders will be without the services of junior standout catcher Ryan Bakes (.469, 5 HR, 14 RBI) for the remainder of the season due to an injury.
"Obviously, losing Ryan is a tough loss for us but we have had other guys who have stepped up in his absence," said Huntley coach Andy Jakubowski, whose team is shooting for its fifth consecutive conference title.
The Red Raiders have Brandon Hanley, who hit a home run and drove in 4 during Saturday's 12-11 nonconference loss to Waubonsie Valley, and Ryan Kelly, who each can catch in Bakes' absence.
"We need to continue to get better with situational hitting, but we are moving in the right direction," said Jakubowski.
Hampshire (10-9, 3-6) stretched its winning streak to 4 with Saturday's nonconference wins over Larkin (9-5 score) and Conant (13-2).
Victor Rodriguez, Jr. went 2 for 2 with a double and 3 RBI, while Evan Spenk added a solo home run against Larkin, while Cervantes had 3 hits for the Royals.
Against Conant, Colin Miller had a pair of home runs, including a grand slam, and a career-high 7 RBI, while Matthew Karbowski pitched 4 scoreless innings with 5 strikeouts.
Last Friday, Dominic Borecky's RBI single in the eighth lifted the Whip-Purs to a 5-4, walk-off win over Yorkville Christian.
Hampshire began its win streak with a 3-1 win over Prairie Ridge last Thursday behind Austin Ernst's 2-hit complete game.
Aurora Christian (6-8-1, 5-2 MSC Red) split Saturday's conference doubleheader with Timothy Christian, winning the nightcap, 9-3, after dropping a 5-2 Game 1 decision.
Diego Huerta and Camden Biskup each had a pair of hits and 2 RBI for the Eagles, while Jackson Robertson picked up the mound victory, allowing an earned run and fanning 5 in 5 innings.
Ryan Jones (3 for 3, RBI), Conner Kendall (2 for 4), Robertson (2 for 3, double, RBI) and Huerta (2 for 4) led the Eagles' offense in the opener.