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posted: 4/27/2013 7:30 PM

Elgin takes city series from Larkin

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  • Elgin's Nicholas Turner tries to put the tag on Larkin's John Jowaski Saturday at Trout Park.

       Elgin's Nicholas Turner tries to put the tag on Larkin's John Jowaski Saturday at Trout Park.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Larkin's Rob Bond is greeted by his teammates after scoring against Elgin Saturday at Trout Park.

       Larkin's Rob Bond is greeted by his teammates after scoring against Elgin Saturday at Trout Park.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin's Alex Buttell reels in a ground ball Saturday at Trout Park.

       Elgin's Alex Buttell reels in a ground ball Saturday at Trout Park.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin's Omar Valadez dives to try and pick up a groundball shot Saturday at Trout Park.

       Elgin's Omar Valadez dives to try and pick up a groundball shot Saturday at Trout Park.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin's James Stearns dives for a fly ball Saturday at Trout Park.

       Elgin's James Stearns dives for a fly ball Saturday at Trout Park.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin's Alex Buttell tries to pull in the throw to second as Larkin's Jack McCracken slides in safely Saturday at Trout Park.

       Elgin's Alex Buttell tries to pull in the throw to second as Larkin's Jack McCracken slides in safely Saturday at Trout Park.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Larkin's Jack McCracken delivers to the plate Saturday at Trout Park.

       Larkin's Jack McCracken delivers to the plate Saturday at Trout Park.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Elgin's Nicholas Turner delivers to the plate Saturday at Trout Park.

       Elgin's Nicholas Turner delivers to the plate Saturday at Trout Park.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 

A theme emerged from the dramatic conclusion of the 3-game baseball series between Larkin and Elgin: it only takes one big inning.

Larkin dominated Elgin for the first 13 innings of Saturday's doubleheader at Trout Park, but the Maroons mitigated five hours of frustration with a 6-run rally in their final at-bat of Game 2 to win 10-9, thereby splitting the twinbill and winning the series 2-1.

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Ryan Sitter doubled in a run and Ethan Henke doubled home 2 more to pull Elgin within 9-7, setting the stage for No. 9 hitter Omar Valadez to play walkoff hero with the bases loaded and two outs.

Valadez was 0-for-2 on the day with 3 walks and had reached on an error. He ran the count full against Larkin reliever John Jawoski and swatted a 3-run double to the right-center gap, scoring hustling catcher Brandon Higdon all the way from first base ahead of the throw.

"I was just thinking get a single or a basehit to tie the game or something," Valadez said once the Elgin celebration died down, "but he left it up and I hit it into a gap."

"I'm happy for Omar," Elgin coach David Foerster said. "He's one of our hardest workers if not our hardest worker since September, October. He just gets after it. He's a polite kid, a great kid. I'm so happy for him that he was able to come through in that spot."

Larkin starting pitcher Jon Lenz had a 9-4 lead when he walked Isaac Narayan to open the bottom of the seventh. Lenz was relieved by Jawoski (0-2), who issued 2 more walks and allowed 4 hits.

"It always hurts, especially losing a game like that," said Larkin catcher and co-captain Niko Morado, who finished the day 3-for-4 with 2 doubles and 5 RBI. "We played 13 solid innings. Most of the second game was a good one up until that last inning."

Larkin also led most of Thursday's series opener until Elgin rallied for 4 runs in the sixth inning and won 6-5.

"All 3 games we outplayed them for all but two innings, but they got the big innings," Larkin coach Matt Esterino said. "We played pretty clean baseball for 2 of these 3 games, but we just didn't shut them down when we had to. We kind of flat-lined a little in the fifth, sixth and seventh. Either way we need to protect a 5-run lead in the seventh inning. That's what it comes down to."

Larkin (6-10, 3-9) won the opener 7-3 behind the solid pitching of Jack McCracken (3-3). The junior scattered 7 hits and did not allow an earned run in a complete-game victory. The Royals led that contest 2-0 before they erupted for 5 runs in the fourth inning, keyed by Morado's 2-run double. Right-hander Nick Turner (0-3) took the loss.

Elgin (5-12, 4-10) scored 3 runs in the seventh inning to break up McCracken's shutout, but it wasn't enough to offset 6 errors in the ballgame. In fact, the Maroons committed 9 errors in the doubleheader, but the Game 2 comeback obscured those blemishes.

"Hitting the ball, getting this win, makes it go away," said Sitter, who went 3-for-7 with a double and a 3-run home run in Game 2. "Crosstown rival, big game, walkoff win? I mean, it was just pure joy running out of that dugout. Everything else went away, all the errors, everything."

Jonathan Zima (2-3) earned the Game 2 victory in relief of starting pitcher Kiko Mari. He limited the Royals to 1 run on 3 hits in 4 innings.

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