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St. Charles North shocks St. Rita in state baseball semis

First football, now baseball: North Stars pull off a second Catholic League upset

St. Charles North’s Kyler Brown (9) celebrates the North Stars’ 6-4 4A state semifinal victory over St. Rita.
St. Charles North’s Kyler Brown (9) celebrates the North Stars’ 6-4 4A state semifinal victory over St. Rita.
Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

St. Charles North shocked the state and the Catholic League in November, knocking off Mount Carmel in the state football semifinals. It turns out that wasn’t a fluke. The North Stars appear to be a rising athletic powerhouse.

The North Stars took down another Catholic League stalwart on Friday at DuPage Medical Group Field in Joliet. St. Charles North upset St. Rita 6-4 in the Class 4A state baseball semifinals.

“It’s crazy,” St. Charles North first baseman/quarterback Kyler Brown said. “It is awesome to be a part of. We’ve been doubted for many years. Just to prove ourselves these past couple months has been great. We are very blessed.”

Brown made one of the key plays of the game. He snagged a blistering line drive and stepped on first to double off a baserunner and end the Mustangs’ scoring threat in the bottom of the sixth inning.

“It was a great play, a heads up play,” North Stars pitcher Nick DeMarco said. “It was a game-changer. If that ball gets through it is a whole other game.”

St. Charles North’s Kyler Brown (9) makes an unassisted double play to get the North Stars out of a jam in the bottom of the sixth inning.
St. Charles North’s Kyler Brown (9) makes an unassisted double play to get the North Stars out of a jam in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

DeMarco, a sophomore, started the game at shortstop and pitched the final two innings. He didn’t allow a hit or a run.

“We knew coming in that Nick was going to be in the game at some point,” St. Charles North coach Todd Genke said. “He’s a big-game player. That is why we want him in there in those situations. He came through for us like he has all season.”

St. Rita (34-7) opened the scoring with two runs in the second inning. The North Stars (29-10) took the lead for good with a three runs in the fourth.

Senior Egon Hein’s two-RBI double with two outs in the fourth was the big hit. Junior Ryan Thiesse was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and sophomore Alex Najera was 2-for-2 with two RBI and a run scored.

“We grind it out,” Genke said. “I know that’s a cliche but these guys have put in the time. Everyone kept talking about how young we were. We made the right decisions. Gosh, we even had a freshman [Jayden Lobliner] playing third base there at the end.”

St. Charles North will face Edwardsville, a 2-0 winner against Hampshire in the title game at 5 p.m. on Saturday. St. Charles High School won the AA baseball title back in 1999, that is the city’s only other championship.

“It feels amazing,” North Stars senior John Hamer said. “It is the best feeling I’ve probably had in 18 years of living.”

St. Rita shortstop Jalen Greer was drafted in the fifth round by Oakland earlier this week. He was hitless in the game. Bobby Atkinson had two hits for the Mustangs.

“We had gotten to this point, particularly in the playoffs, by playing great defense,” St. Rita coach John Nee said. “Today we didn’t do that. That’s baseball.”

St. Charles North’s Nick DeMarco (2) picks up the save.
St. Charles North’s Nick DeMarco (2) picks up the save.
Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

The Mustangs will play in the third place game on Saturday.

“Nothing feels like this,” St. Rita senior Brendan Carrane said. “This one hurts and I think it will hurt for quite awhile.”

St. Rita-St. Charles North box score

It wasn’t all bad news for the Catholic League. Montini and St. Laurence both won Class 3A semifinal games and will play for the title at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

The Broncos beat Dixon 5-1 [BOX SCORE] behind a terrific game from starter Michael Sclafani. The junior pitched all seven innings, allowing five hits and one run. He struck out seven and walked two.

The Vikings knocked off Waterloo 8-2. [BOX SCORE] Luke Montgomery, Matt McCormick, Vito Valincius and Jason Krol led the offensive attack.