Baseball: South Elgin holds off LarkinSouth Elgin's Eric Stazy reacts after striking out a batter to end Wednesday's regional semifinal contest against Larkin in Elgin. | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 24, 2012 12:19AM
Nothing came easy for South Elgin on Wednesday against the host team at the Class 4A Larkin Regional.
The top-seeded Storm kept its season alive with a 7-5 semifinal victory, but not before enduring some pressure-packed moments brought on by the fourth-seeded Royals.
Larkin (11-23) nipped at South Elgin’s heels all day, rallying from a three-run deficit to tie the score in the fourth inning and later putting runners at second and third with one out in the seventh while trailing by two.
Storm reliever Eric Stazy struck out Braden Royse for the second out in the seventh, walked Austin Royse to load the bases and then struck out Drew Shore to end the contest and send South Elgin (19-12) to the championship game at 10 a.m. on Saturday against the winner of Thursday’s semifinal between No. 2 Barrington and No. 3 Elgin.
“Anytime the bases are loaded, there are two outs and you’ve got the fans behind you, those are moments you dream of as a little kid playing baseball,” Stazy said. “I love that. It feels like you’ve got all the momentum when people are behind you rooting you on. It’s awesome.”
The Storm scored two runs in the second, two in the third, two in the fourth and one in the fifth, and the consistent offensive production proved critical as the Royals kept pace with one run in the third, three in the fourth and one in the sixth.
The score was tied 4-4 in the bottom of the fourth when Jake Buhman drew a bases-loaded walk to bring home David Goins and put South Elgin ahead for good 5-4. Andrew Perry followed by hitting a sharp grounder that ricocheted off Shore at third base for an error, allowing David Palmer to score.
Stazy led off the bottom of the fifth with a double, and two batters later Ryan Ford’s groundout to second drove in courtesy runner Tyler Christensen to make it 7-4. Palmer went 3-for-4 to lead the offense for the Storm, which left 10 runners on base.
“We put the ball in play and were fortunate to score some runs,” South Elgin coach Jim Kating said. “But we still left a lot of guys on base. We could have made it a lot easier on ourselves if we’d come through and been a little more patient at the plate.”
Stazy (5-3) earned the win after allowing one earned run on five hits while striking out four and walking one in 3 1/3 innings in relief of Palmer, who started and allowed four earned runs on five hits in 3 2/3 innings.
The Royals were one-hit by Palmer in a loss to South Elgin in early April but finished with a 10-8 advantage in hits Wednesday. It wasn’t enough, though, as Larkin’s season ended with a loss to the Storm for the second year in a row.
Seniors Kyle Newquist (3-for-4) and Pete Lennard (2-for-4, RBI) and junior Chris Guzeman (2-for-2) all had multi-hit games for the Royals while sophomore Brayden Royse provided a two-run triple. Sophomore Tyler Kalusa and senior Austin Royse also chipped in with an RBI apiece.
“We had our shot,” Larkin coach Matt Esterino said. “We had the tying run in scoring position but just couldn’t get the big hit.
“(Stazy) did a good job and came in and shut the door, but we had opportunities. Our guys fought and clawed and you’ve got to give credit to our guys as well.”
Austin Royse (3-5) started for Larkin and took the loss after allowing six runs, three of which were earned, in 3 1/3 innings. His younger brother Brayden Royse came on and tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief.
Buhman had two RBI and Michael Murphy added two RBI for the Storm, which leads the all-time series against the Royals 9-3.
“Larkin never quit and kept on battling back every time we put runs up,” Kating said. “They are a very scrappy team and we’re fortunate to get a win on their home field.”