There were two things Bartlett pitcher Kyle Senes felt Thursday in his first varsity appearance for the Hawks' baseball team.
For starters, Senes inherited the immediate pressure of trying to hold down a 1-run lead in the bottom of the eighth from reliever Matt Lathan, and the pressure escalated when Senes loaded the bases full of Royals with only one out and Larkin's 4-5 hitters lurking.
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But instead of succumbing to the pressure in his debut, Senes settled down and punched out Brayden Royse and John Jowalski looking with a few curveballs and some heat on the outside corner to get his first save and a 7-6 Upstate Eight crossover win over Larkin in Elgin.
As for the other thing he deduced, it was all thanks to teammate Ryan Karrick, who supplied multiple cubes of ice down Senes' back.
"That's really cold," said the junior.
But Senes' success could go a long way for the Hawks (2-1, 1-1). He faced 5 batters and got Jowalski looking on two curves and a fastball on the edge in a game that could have easily gone the Royals' way. Bartlett couldn't seem to put a lid on Larkin's offense for the first five innings after the Royals knocked starter Justin Blanchett around for 5 earned runs and 11 hits in 4 innings and seemingly re-answered every answer the Hawks had.
"Hats off to Justin, he ate up some innings for us," said Hawks' coach Chris Pemberton. "Then to come in and get that hold, Lathan did a great job and Kyle Senes -- both juniors getting some taste of varsity experience -- it's great for them to come in and get that confidence early in the season for us."
Lathan (1-0) earned the win by going 2 , with 2 walks and 5 strikeout.
Bartlett found some Lady Luck in the eighth. Matt Vitulli led off with a single and a balk moved him over to second with one out. After Lathan walked, Mike Wick's bunt single loaded the bases for Karrick. When Dylan Ganow's pickoff went past third base into foul territory, Vitulli scored the game-winner.
"Boys did a great job of getting me over there and they tried to pick me off, I wasn't even off the bag," said Vitulli, who was 3-for-3 with 3 runs scored and 3 RBI.
"We knew that if we could get some more at-bats we were going to make contact and put balls in play, we did and we got the breaks we needed and it was a little bit of Lady Luck," said Pemberton.
Larkin (2-2, 0-2) jumped out to a 4-run lead after two innings before Bartlett stormed back in the fourth with 4 runs, 2 of which came from a Vitulli single between short and third base. Blanchett's sacrifice fly scored Jake Barrutia and tied matters, but Larkin answered in the bottom half when Justin Kalusa doubled to left, scoring Jon Lenz from second. Kalusa was 2-for-4 with an RBI while brothers Jon (4-for-4) and Dan Lenz (3-for-4) also contributed for the Royals.
The Royals scored a run in the fifth before Bartlett chased Royse out of the game in the sixth when they strung together four straight hits with one out, as Vitulli added another RBI single in the process. Royse went 6 innings, giving up 6 runs with 1 walk and 4 strikeouts. Larkin squandered a runner on second in the sixth and a runner on first in the seventh. Ganow (0-1) suffered the loss in 2 innings work.
"It's never fun to lose a game you're leading," said Royals coach Matt Esterino. "We'll learn from this and keep this stinging feeling and come right back and put it in our back pockets and string out some Ws."