Newquist carries Larkin by MaroonsLarkin's Kyle Newquist delivers a pitch against Elgin. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 18, 2011 10:24PM
Kyle Newquist was in his element Wednesday night at Trout Park.
The Royals’ junior right-handed pitcher almost personally ended Larkin’s 12-game losing streak with a grand slam, three hits, and six RBI while throwing a three-hit, 9-0 shutout at rival Elgin.
“He’s a smart kid and he likes to be under the lights, which is awesome,” Larkin coach Matt Esterino said. “He likes the spotlight, which is fantastic.”
Newquist (2-5) struck out 11 and walked two.
“Tonight, I pretty much stuck with my fastball,” Newquist said. “My curveball was a little off and so was the changeup.
“They weren’t keeping up with the fastball and if they’re not hitting it, I’m keeping on it.”
Newquist’s timing proved impeccable one night after Elgin had ended its own 20-game losing streak at Larkin’s expense. The Royals needed a win badly.
“It’s huge,” Newquist said. “We’ve had a rough couple of weeks.”
The Royals came out hitting and running from the outset against losing pitcher D.J. Riggio (0-5). They knocked him from the mound after 3 1/3 innings. He gave up eight runs and eight hits. The Royals’ five-run second inning proved decisive.
“Bottom line is if we don’t score more, we’re not going to win anything, anyway,” Elgin coach Dave Foerster said. “When you fall behind and you have to throw fastballs for a strike, it makes it that much easier to hit, and they did a good job of putting the ball in play and hitting it hard against us.”
Newquist held Elgin (3-26-1, 3-19-1) without a hit for 5 1/3 innings after Joe Quick and Ryan Walker had singled starting the second. He struck out the side after those two got on in the second.
Offensively, Larkin’s Trevor Whitehead went 2-for-3, and started the game with a walk and two stolen bases. Niko Morado walked and stole, as well. A run scored on an error, and then Newquist lined an RBI single. A double play helped the Maroons get out of the inning.
“Coach wanted us to be more aggressive at the plate, come up there with a better approach and be more aggressive on the basepaths,” Whitehead said.
The Royals (10-21, 4-19) needed no speed in the second. Jack Eckholm walked and Pete Lennard singled. Whitehead doubled home a run, but Lennard got thrown out trying to score. Then Morado walked and Victor Saldana was safe on a fielder’s choice, loading the bases for Newquist. He lined a fastball hard and well over the fence in left-center for a grand slam.
“I kind of realized I could hit a grand slam,” he said. “He threw me a fastball inside and I just turned on it. It (a grand slam) was in the back of my head.
“This is probably my best day at the plate. Let’s hope I can stick at this level.”
He drove in another run in the fourth, singling in Morado, who had doubled.
Larkin’s last run came in the fifth against reliever Joe Kellenberger. Lennard had doubled and moved up when Eckholm, who’d singled, got thrown out trying to come home from first. Then Kellenberger threw a wild pitch for the run.
“We haven’t been hitting the ball a ton,” Esterino said. “We’ve been putting it in play. So we’ve got to be aggressive at the plate and on the bases to score runs.”
The teams play the rubber game of the series tonight at Trout Park.