Baseball: Bounces go Larkin’s way in win against ElginLarkin's Drew Shore fields a ground ball during the third inning of Wednesday's game against Elgin. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 17, 2012 12:18AM
Add the final inning and a half of Wednesday’s baseball game between Larkin and Elgin to the long list of crazy finishes staged between the crosstown rivals.
The Royals benefitted from a fortuitous home-field bounce in the bottom of the eighth inning as they notched an improbable 4-3 Upstate Eight River victory. With the bases loaded and one out, sophomore Tyler Kalusa hit a sharp grounder that hopped off the edge of the infield and directly over the head of Maroons shortstop Andrew Higdon for the game-winning two-run single.
“I was just exhilarated,” Kalusa said of his reaction. “Seeing the looks in my teammates’ faces made me happy.”
Larkin (11-21, 8-16) trailed 2-0 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh when senior Nate Young came through in the clutch with a two-run single down the right-field line to tie the score. Elgin (11-22, 5-19) came right back and regained the lead on Derek Strohmaier’s RBI single in the top of the eighth, but the Royals rallied again in the bottom of the inning thanks to some small ball and a fair amount of luck.
Drew Shore got things going for Larkin in the eighth with a slow-rolling single through the right side of the infield with one out. Chris Guzeman followed with a bunt single and both runners later moved up a base on a pitch in the dirt by Elgin pitcher Kiko Mari.
Shore was lucky to reach third base safely on the wild pitch, which didn’t bounce far from Maroons catcher Gage Teschner. The throw from Teschner to third baseman Jake Bartelt beat Shore by two steps, but the Larkin senior — who underwent ACL surgery in the fall after sustaining a knee injury during football — used a juke move to avoid Bartelt’s tag.
“Applause to my surgeon for getting my knee back in shape so I could use my fancy moves there,” Shore said.
The victory gave the Royals back-to-back wins for the first time in more than a month and also marked their seventh triumph in their past nine meetings against the Maroons. They’ll go for the sweep when the teams wrap up their three-game series at 6 p.m. today at Trout Park.
Frustration was running high for Elgin after losing by one run for the ninth time this season. Ryan Sitter went 2-for-4 with an RBI and Mari added an RBI double, but for the most part the Maroons struggled in clutch situations while stranding 13 runners on base.
“We’ve had our fair share (of tough losses), and that’s right up there,” Elgin coach Dave Foerster said. “We had chances and left a ton of guys left on base. That’s where the game was lost.”
Mari (2-2) took the loss in 2/3 innings in relief of starter Eric Daly, who struck out two and allowed six hits in 6 2/3 strong innings before allowing Young’s big hit in the bottom of the seventh. Guzeman (1-3) was the winning pitcher after tossing 4 2/3 innings in relief of starter Dylan Ganow.
Larkin also missed a number of scoring opportunities by stranding 10 runners on base, but it managed to come through in crunch time. The two-run rally in the seventh included a hard infield single by Niko Morado that bounced off Daly and a well-executed sacrifice bunt by Willie Rodriguez.
Kalusa finished 2-for-5 to lead the nine-hit attack for the Royals, who had 14 players see action during the victory.
“We tested the limits of our bench and they did a great job,” Larkin coach Matt Esterino said. “We had a lot of different guys get in and Chris kept us in the game with his pitching.”