The Elgin baseball team capitalized on the momentum of a costly Larkin error to seize a 6-5 comeback victory in the crosstown series opener at Elgin's Trout Park Thursday evening.
Larkin starting pitcher Brayden Royse was in control with a 5-2 lead in the top of the sixth inning until the Maroons struck for 4 runs on 3 hits and the error. Royse allowed a leadoff single to Nick Turner, walked Brandon Higdon and saw both runners advance on Jimmy Stearns' sacrifice bunt.
Larkin reliever Jack McCracken then induced a high flyball to right field off the bat of No. 9 hitter Omar Valadez. However, the catchable ball was dropped for a 2-base error. Courtesy runners Tanner Bednar and Jhon Payne both raced home to cut the deficit to 5-4.
"It wasn't just one play, but the error didn't help," Larkin coach Matt Esterino said.
Isaac Narayan's subsequent single scored Valadez to tie the score 5-5. Alex Buttell then delivered what proved to be the game winner: a line-drive double to the wall in right center, which allowed Narayan to score from first base standing up.
"I got a fastball up and over the plate," Buttell said. "We're starting to wake up and get the bats going."
The rally reinvigorated Elgin starting pitcher Ryan Sitter (2-2), who went the distance despite allowing 5 runs (4 earned) on 10 hits and 3 walks. Sitter retired 6 of the final 7 batters he faced and finished with 6 strikeouts.
"I was fighting myself for the first two innings," Sitter said. "I never sat down after the third inning because I was fuming. I had a blank stare and no one could talk to me because I was in my angry zone. The more (Larkin) would hit, I would just get madder and madder. I was trying to throw past people. Later I realized I could let them hit it and control where they hit it."
It was the second straight comeback victory for Elgin (4-10, 3-8), which won for the fourth time in 6 games.
"It's important for us to learn how to win games in pressure situations," Elgin coach David Foerster said. "The kids are buying into it and want to be in these situations."
Larkin (4-9, 1-8) jumped to a 3-0 lead in the third inning. Catcher Niko Morado led off with a solo shot to right, and the Royals scored 2 two-out runs on Chris Guzeman's double.
Royse doubled home a fourth-inning run to make it 4-1, and Guzeman put the Royals ahead 5-1 with a fifth-inning single, scoring Rob Bond.
"We had the chance to put them away and we just didn't do it because of little mistakes on defense," said Guzeman, who went 2-for-3 with a walk and 3 RBI. "We just have to put this behind us and come back on Saturday."
The series concludes with a doubleheader at Trout Park on Saturday at 10 a.m.