The Elgin baseball team played its third straight errorless game Monday. Not coincidentally, the 6-3 nonconference victory over visiting West Chicago was its third straight.
The Maroons (4-2) didn't just play adequate defense; they executed difficult double plays to quash threats in the third and fifth innings and frustrate the Wildcats (5-5).
"Our pitchers trust us," said Elgin first baseman Joe Quick, who figured prominently in both plays. "We've gotten pretty good defensively, and now our bats are starting to come. All we need really is a couple of runs and our defense can hopefully hold us in games."
Elgin (4-2) led 4-0 in the third inning, but West Chicago loaded the bases with one out against 6-foot-4 right-hander Eric Sedlack (1-1), courtesy of a hit and 2 walks.
No. 3 hitter Nick Driscoll followed with a flyball to shallow center field, and the Maroons gunned down the runner trying to tag from third for an inning-ending double play. Center fielder Chris Edwards threw to first baseman and relay man Quick, who pivoted and fired a strike to catcher Gage Teschner in time.
West Chicago had a runner at third with one out in the fifth inning, but Teschner pounced on Sean Elfstrom's swinging bunt and fired to Quick at first base for the second out. Quick then alertly threw home to a covering Sedlack, who put the tag on Zach Bauler to complete the 2-3-1 twin killing.
"I like the ball in my hands," Quick said. "One of our aspects is to think every play is coming to you. It just happened. It was natural."
Sedlack pitched 5 scoreless innings until he was relieved by Drew Bloomquist to start the sixth. Bloomquist, who was making only his second appearance since recovering from shoulder soreness, had trouble with his release point. The senior right-hander walked 3 Wildcats and plunked 2 more with inside pitches as West Chicago trimmed the deficit to 5-3.
However, Elgin stemmed further damage with another big defensive play with the bases loaded and two away. Shortstop Andrew Higdon gathered a spinning 1-hopper behind second base, and his dive to the bag nipped the runner for an inning-ending force play.
"We just didn't hit the ball well," said West Chicago coach Dan McCarthy, whose team managed 3 hits. "(Sedlack) was not overpowering by any means, but he threw strikes and he pitched with a lead. That's what good high school pitchers will do. We had some chances, but we couldn't get a big hit. That's baseball."
Elgin took a 6-3 lead in the sixth when pinch hitter Ryan Sitter reached on an error and scored on a wild pitch.
Senior Eric Daly earned his second save of the season by retiring the top of the West Chicago order in order in the seventh. He struck out 2 hitters, including a punch out to end the game.
Elgin jumped to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first against Wildcats starter Joey Loftus (1-3). Senior Gage Teschner smacked a 2-run, opposite-field single to right field with the bases loaded and one out, scoring Edwards and Derek Strohmaier for a 2-0 lead.
"I was just trying to do my part, trying to at least move the runners," said Teschner, who went 2-for-3 with 3 RBI.
Loftus induced a groundball to second base that should have ended the inning, but the first baseman simply missed an accurate throw, allowing 2 unearned runs to score.
In fact, 4 of the 6 runs charged to Loftus in the game were unearned, thanks to 3 West Chicago errors. He struck out 10 Maroons and allowed only 4 hits in 6 innings, but he walked 7.
"We beat ourselves early," McCarthy said. "We didn't catch the ball at first base on the third out of the first inning. Instead of chasing 2 runs we're chasing 4, and I told our guys we're not good enough to overcome those types of mistakes. If we're going to be successful, we can't make those types of mental errors."