Baseball: Larkin rallies to surprise rival ElginLarkin's Kyle Newquist pitches against Elgin on Tuesday at Trout Park. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 16, 2012 1:13AM
Things weren’t looking good for Larkin starter Kyle Newquist during the bottom of the first inning of Tuesday’s showdown against rival Elgin High.
The Maroons had five runs on the board thanks to two walks, two hits, two Royals errors and one hit batter. Larkin also had Dylan Ganow warming up in the bullpen, so Newquist’s time on the mound certainly looked limited.
However, Newquist had a slightly different outlook on the situation.
“I knew I was going all game,” Newquist said. “I saw (Ganow) warming up and I was thinking there’s no way he’s coming in this game. We’re playing the crosstown rival at Trout Park, I’m going to go all seven today.”
Newquist’s analysis turned out to be spot on as he righted the ship and held Elgin in check the rest of the night as the Royals rallied for a 6-5 victory in the first of three Upstate Eight River contests between the teams.
A one-hour weather delay in the top of the fourth inning seemed to work wonders for Newquist, who retired 12 of the 13 batters he faced after the break, including the last nine. Gone were the control issues that had plagued the senior earlier in the game and throughout the season as he finished his complete-game effort with six strikeouts and three hits allowed.
“We were joking that if that’s what it takes, a lightning break and a rain delay, we’ll take it,” Larkin coach Matt Esterino said of Newquist’s turnaround. “When he spots his fastball he works the curve and change off of it, and when he throws strikes he can be unhittable.”
Larkin (10-21, 7-16) got back in the game in the top of the third when Niko Morado stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. The senior catcher was facing a 1-1 count when he turned on a pitch from Elgin starter Ryan Sitter and sent it down the right-field line for a grand slam to pull the Royals within 5-4.
“I got a fastball over the plate, and coach wants me to be aggressive so I just turned on it,” Morado said. “I thought it was a pop up and it kind of carried and carried and went out. We’ll take it.”
Larkin manufactured two more runs in the top of the fourth after the delay to take the lead for good.
Pete Lennard’s bloop RBI single to right brought home pinch runner Rob Peterson to tie the score at 5. With two outs, Lennard wandered off of first to draw a pickoff throw from Sitter. That allowed Chris Guzeman, who was on third base, to charge home. The play resulted in the go-ahead run as Guzeman crossed the plate safely on Elgin first baseman Nick Turner’s wild throw.
Guzeman finished 2-for-2 with two runs scored as the Royals won for the fourth time in their past five meetings against the Maroons. Newquist, who recently solidified plans to walk on to the Southern Illinois football team after playing quarterback for Larkin, improved his pitching record to 3-3.
Kiko Mari’s three-run double served as the big blow in the bottom of the first for Elgin (11-21, 5-18). Alex Buttell also had an RBI while Sitter (2-6) took the loss. The sophomore allowed four earned runs on four hits while striking out six and walking seven in what was a frustrating outcome for the Maroons after jumping out to the 5-0 lead.
“We played tight (after the delay) for whatever reason,” Elgin coach Dave Foerster said. “We didn’t look too comfortable out there. Instead of being confident we got tight all of a sudden and it affected us.”