Elder’s no-hitter lifts WestminsterWestminster's Kevin Elder celebrates after their victory at Westminster Christian School in Elgin, Ill., on Friday, May 20, 2011.
| Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media |
Updated: May 20, 2011 10:59PM
Westminster Christian’s Kevin Elder kicked into full-blown championship gear Friday.
Doing nothing to diminish his status as a big-game pitcher, Elder hurled a no-hitter to lift the Warriors to their fourth regional title in five years in a 2-0 victory against crosstown rival St. Edward in the championship game of the Westminster Christian Class 2A Regional.
Locked in a pitcher’s duel with Green Wave ace Luke Duffy, Elder never flinched as he struck out 13 and walked only one. The gem marked another dazzling performance for the hard-throwing junior, who was the winning pitcher for Westminster in last year’s Class 1A state title game.
“I knew when I came in that I had good stuff,” Elder said. “I looked up at the scoreboard in the fourth inning and I was like, ‘I’m going to keep this going the whole game.’ I just kept attacking the strike zone and threw a lot of strikes.”
The Warriors (25-7) advance to Lisle Sectional at Benedictine University. They’ll play in the semifinals Wednesday against the winner of Saturday’s regional final between Walther Lutheran and Immaculate Conception.
The outcome brought to an end Gene Belmonte’s six-year run as St. Edward’s head coach. Belmonte announced earlier in the season that he’d retire following the campaign, and the Wave came close to sending their bench boss away with some postseason hardware.
“If you are going to go out in a last game, you might as well go out in style,” Belmonte said. “It would have felt a heck of a lot better if we had gotten some base hits and won the game, but it feels good to leave with a quality game like this and to watch our kids play that well.”
The squads were locked in a scoreless tie in the fourth inning when Westminster designated hitter Ray Adame floated a single to shallow center. Sophomore Will Woodhouse, the No. 8 hitter for the Warriors, followed by lifting a high fly ball into the corner down the left-field line. St. Edward left fielder Zach Brewster couldn’t quite reel in a diving catch, allowing Adame to score on Woodhouse’s RBI double as Westminster took a 1-0 lead.
Adame then helped provide an insurance run for the Warriors when he drew a leadoff walk in the sixth. Aaron Wiewel came in as a pinch runner for Adame, stole second and later scored on Andrew Mason’s RBI single.
Mason finished 2-for-3 to lead the six-hit attack for the Warriors, but it wasn’t lost on Westminster coach Jeff Moeller that the bottom of his batting order sparked both run-scoring rallies.
“They’ve been coming through a lot lately,” Moeller said. “In the last couple weeks those guys (at the bottom of the order) have been putting the ball in play and making stuff happen.”
St. Edward (6-24) had only two base runners against Elder (8-2), with the first coming in the fourth when Brewster reached on an error. He advanced all the way to third on a sacrifice bunt and a steal but was stranded when Tighe Koehring struck out swinging to end the threat.
St. Edward catcher Derek Porto then drew a leadoff walk for the Wave in the fifth, but nothing came of the free pass as courtesy runner Sean Richmond was picked off moments later.
Duffy (2-5) struck out six and walked four while tossing all six innings for the Wave, which lost to Westminster for the sixth time in the past seven meetings between the schools.
“All year we’ve talked about hitting, pitching and defense,” Duffy said. “Today our pitching and defense were definitely there, but our bats were a little behind.”