SOUTH ELGIN – St. Charles North knew who its opposing pitcher was going to be as soon as the postseason draw came out.
With a Class 3A South Elgin Regional semifinal matchup with Wheaton North, the North Stars knew they were going to see Falcons’ ace Will Fletcher.
Having already shut down North once this season, Fletcher did it again Friday in another sparkling effort to lead Wheaton North to a 3-1 victory and into Saturday’s regional championship game.
After giving up a run on an RBI single from Jayden Lobliner, Fletcher retired 10 of the next 11 North Stars to allow his team to get itself back into the game.
“I just stayed locked in,” said Fletcher, who struck out eight in the complete-game victory. “That’s kind of my approach in every single game I pitch, but especially in a big game like this. I just felt like I was able to stay on the attack and execute the pitches that I wanted to.”
Fletcher got a big boost in the top of the fourth when Jackson Moore’s drive to deep left field clipped the top of the fence and went over for a game-tying solo home run. The Falcons (16-18), then, took the lead when Tyler O’Connor tripled with two out in the fifth and was brought home by a base hit from Ty O’ Connell.
That was all of the run support Fletcher needed, though he got an insurance run in the seventh for a bit of additional support.
“You give [Fletcher] a ton of credit over there,” St. Charles North coach Todd Genke said. “He threw a ton of strikes, and really kept us off balance. He pitched well against us earlier this season, and we knew we were going to see him today. We wanted to be aggressive early because he throws a lot of strikes, but sometimes you have to tip your cap to the guy on the mound.”
“Will was outstanding today. He had a great performance against a very good lineup today,” Wheaton North coach Dan Schoessling said. “Against a team today that always has a good approach at the late, Will didn’t have to extend himself too often, which was nice.”
One time Fletcher, who threw 59 of 87 pitches for strikes, did have some pressure was in the bottom of the fifth after the Falcons took their 2-1 advantage.
St. Charles North (18-14) had first and third with no outs after back-to-back hits from Parker Reinke and Aidan O’Connell. However, Fletcher struck out the next St. Charles North hitter and O’Connell was caught stealing for the second out. The Wheaton North right-hander, then, ended the North Stars’ threat with another strikeout.
Quinn Flanagan’s third single of the afternoon gave the Falcons its 3-1 advantage in the top of the seventh before Fletcher retired St. Charles North in order in the seventh to finish off his complete game.
Fletcher allowed just three hits, didn’t walk a batter, and retired the final eight hitters he faced in Friday’s victory.
After being eliminated by St. Charles North in last year’s playoffs, the revenge was sweet this time around for the Falcons.
“It’s always nice to beat St. Charles North,” O’ Connor said. “Will did his thing today and was just amazing. [St. Charles North] has an amazing team over there and some amazing talent, but we just played better today.”
Wheaton North takes on Addison Trail in Saturday’s regional championship game at 2:30 p.m.