South Elgin keeps pace in UEC Valley race
Updated: May 19, 2011 10:01PM
South Elgin celebrated senior night on Thursday. But the class of players which was a large part of the school’s first two regional titles and has already helped set the school record for wins in a season this year has a chance to leave its biggest mark yet in the record books.
The Storm moved a step closer to its first-ever Upstate Eight Conference title by outlasting Bartlett in a slugfest for a 17-9 victory. If the Storm can defeat Batavia on Friday it will share the Valley Division title with Waubonsie Valley.
“It would be real special,” said South Elgin coach Jim Kating. “Especially for this group which has already done so much for our program. They’ve been a great group to coach and it’s been my pleasure. But I think they still want to accomplish more.”
The Storm (22-8, 16-8) broke the game open with a 10-run third inning to pull ahead 13-2. South Elgin sent 13 batters to the plate in the inning. Nate Garris and Jake Buhmann delivered the big blows as each hit a two-run homer. Garris also had an RBI single in his second at-bat of the inning. Kenny Lowden added a two-run double. John Menken, Dan Heine and Robbie Greene also had run-scoring hits in the inning.
“We did a real good job of putting the ball in play,” said Kating. “It was definitely a hitters day with the wind blowing out and the warmer weather.”
Bartlett wasn’t about to go down easy. The Hawks responded with seven runs in the top of the fourth. Tyler Farina and Ryan Roszkowiak had back-to-back doubles in the inning as the Hawks trimmed the lead to 13-9. Giacomo Visconti and David Mutter added RBI singles.
“I’m proud of the way the kids responded,” said Bartlett coach Chris Pemberton. “It would have been easy to pack in it at that point. But we kept on battling to try and stay in it. But they are a tough team. If you give them any wiggle room they are going to make you pay for it.”
Storm starter Marty Knuth ran into control problems in the fourth with three straight walks and had to be relieved by Eric Stazy. Stazy shut the door by getting the final out of the inning and then kept Bartlett scoreless over the final three innings. Stazy allowed just one hit in 3 1/3 innings.
“Eric did a great job of coming in and shutting the door,” said Kating. “He just came in and threw strikes.”
The Storm bats stayed hot as they tacked on a run in the sixth with an RBI single from Nate Halas and three more runs in the sixth. Buhmann had a two-run triple in the inning to finish the day 5-for-5 with five RBI.
“I think the key for all of us today was staying aggressive,” said Buhmann. “We went up there looking to jump on the first good fastball.”
Buhmann’s homer in the third inning was an opposite-field shot to left that just stayed inside the foul pole and cleared the 325-foot sign. It was only his second long ball of the year.
“It was just a matter of seeing the ball and hitting it, said Buhmann. “I knew I got under it. I didn’t think it was going to go at first, but it just kept carrying.”
Garris finished the game 3-for-5 with four RBI.