Baseball: St. Charles North wins a wild one with Libertyville, improves program-best start to 12-0

ST. CHARLES – The finest baseball defense in the land has no solution for the dreaded leadoff walk.

It is seemingly, especially late in a close game, the ultimate kiss of death in the sport.

Saturday morning in St. Charles, Libertyville found out the hard way.

St. Charles North leadoff batters Andrew Jimenez and Ethan Kobylinski had bases on balls to begin the North Stars’ half of the fourth and fifth innings.

Both players scored as St. Charles North ultimately had five players dent home plate in the two at-bats.

It turned a tie game into a 14-7 St. Charles North non-conference victory.

The North Stars, the 2019 Class 4A state runner-up, scored the final 11 runs of the game to extend their season-opening winning streak to 12 games.

Libertyville fell to 8-5.

“We talk about getting free bases all the time,” St. Charles North coach Todd Genke said. “If they’re going to give us free bases we’re going to take them.”

Jimenez swiped second, moved to third on a passed ball and eased home on Marco Torres’ routine groundout to give St. Charles North the lead for good at 8-7.

St. Charles North twice overcame early three-run deficits as Kobylinski parked a two-run home run in the bottom of the third to cap a four-run inning and knot the game for the second time at 7-7.

“I just kept it simple,” Kobylinski said. “We work to make each other better. I made an adjustment after the first at-bat. It’s not a big secret to (our winning streak). We’re all a big family here.”

Alex Najera, Notre Dame-bound shortstop Nick DeMarco, Kevin White and Jayden Loblinger all had single-RBI at-bats for the North Stars in the fifth.

Luke Bolender had the symbolic icing on the North Stars’ latest win — the longest such streak to begin a season in program history — with a solo home run in the sixth.

Evan Suyak (3-0) earned the win in relief for the North Stars; White was masterful with an equally compelling relief appearance to secure the save.

The game began most inauspiciously for the North Stars as the team was assuredly happy the Wildcats’ Matt Robertson did not have more than four at-bats.

Robertson had a pair of doubles and a home run as part of his 4-for-4 effort for Libertyville.

St. Charles North had yet to record an out when Robertson launched a three-run blast in the first.

He and Max Cadona had back-to-back doubles to spearhead the Wildcats’ four-run second.

“It was like playing at Wrigley,” Genke said. “No lead was safe.”

“I was pretty aggressive early on in the at-bat but I got two strikes,” Robertson said of his first-inning blast. “I was choking up a little bit and was trying to hit a line drive to center field. Sometimes those things happen.”

“We just came out swinging,” Libertyville coach Matt Thompson said. “They have been having some good hacks.”