The Bartlett baseball team had Lake Park's number. Until Monday.
Not only did Bartlett eliminate Lake Park last spring in a regional championship game, the Hawks had already clinched this season's 3-game Upstate Eight Valley series by virtue of 5-4 and 5-0 victories.
However, the Lancers salvaged the series finale in emphatic style, thumping host Bartlett 11-0 in five innings to remain tied in the loss column with Waubonsie Valley atop the UEC Valley standings.
"We needed this one just to take the pressure off if we run into them again in the playoffs again," said Lake Park junior Anthony Gallina, whose team is assigned to the same St. Charles East sectional as Bartlett. "We needed that confidence to know we could beat them. I think we're the better team. We threw our ace and got the best of them this time."
Lake Park's 11 runs were overkill considering how well senior Christian Taugner pitched. The Brown-bound right hander limited the Hawks to 3 hits in a 55-pitch clinic to improve to 5-1. He located a mitt-popping fastball for strikes and kept the Hawks uneasy in the batter's box with a good curveball. Taugner struck out 9 and did not issue a walk.
"He's a stud and everyone knows it," said Ball State-bound Bartlett catcher Mike Roberson, who managed 1 of Bartlett's 3 singles.
The win was the 19th of Taugner's varsity career, tying him with 1983 graduate Keith Connolly for the most career victories in Lake Park history.
"I didn't even know," Taugner said of the record. "I just go out there every day, pitch the same way I do and what comes just does. I knew this was a big game coming into it and I've been looking forward to it. With them taking 2 games from us already, we knew this was a big game for our goal to win this conference."
The victory improved Lake Park to 17-4 overall, 13-3 in the UEC Valley, followed by idle Waubonsie Valley (10-6, 8-3) and Neuqua Valley (14-7, 11-4). The loss was the third straight for Bartlett (11-5, 10-5) on the heels of a 9-game winning streak. The Hawks slipped 2 games behind Lake Park in the loss column.
"If there's a silver lining out of this it's the series win," Bartlett coach Chris Pemberton said. "You don't want to lose the last game and get 10-runned, but we have to continue to look forward and rise to the challenges. We're kind of going through that midseason slump. We'll battle through it."
Lake Park blistered Bartlett starting pitcher Justin Blanchett (2-1) for 8 runs (6 earned) and 10 of its 13 hits. The Lancers led 4-0 in the fourth inning when Gallina broke it open with a 3-run triple off the base of the center-field fence, scoring Sam Pellegrino, Devin Rybacki and Tom Spear. Gallina also scored on the play when Bartlett's relay to third base was wild, making it 8-0.
The first five batters in the Lake Park lineup -- Rybacki, Spear, Gallina, Taugner and Eric Vatch -- each collected 2 hits, including a pair of doubles by Vatch, who scored twice.
"Coming in, they were hot and we were a game apart in the loss column in the conference so getting this win was big for us," Lake Park coach Dan Colucci said. "Now we go into our (bye) week and play a couple of nonconference games and gear up the last 9. We've put ourselves in the situation we want to be in with 9 games to go. We've got to try take care of what we need to take care of."