The trend continued Monday for the suddenly hot Hoffman Estates baseball team, which defeated host Elgin 3-1 in a regional play-in game to win for the seventh time in 10 games.
"Early on we struggled a little bit, but we're definitely flowing right now and playing some good ball," said senior right-hander Jimmy Ward, who limited No. 16 Elgin (7-23) to an unearned run on 6 hits.
No. 18 Hoffman Estates (11-18) advances to face No. 2 Batavia (25-6) in a Class 4A Bartlett regional semifinal on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
"We're playing better and we're playing smarter," Hoffman Estates coach Todd Meador said. "That's the team we can be. We've talked, too, about play to survive, play for the next game. I know we're going to see a good Batavia team on Wednesday, but we've seen a lot of good teams all season long so we'll see what happens."
The Hawks managed just 5 hits against Elgin junior right-hander Ryan Sitter (2-6), but they made the most of them.
Senior Zack Hommowun led off the game with a double, moved to third on a groundout to second base by Justin Frame and scored on another groundout to the right side by Ethan Bloom to quickly establish a 1-0 lead.
The Hawks moved to a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Zak Lewandowski led off with a double and moved to third on Trevor Pye's single. Lewandowski scored on a wild pitch, and Ward aided his own cause with a run-scoring groundout.
That was all the offense Hoffman Estates needed and that's all the Hawks got. Sitter allowed only 2 hits after the second inning. He struck out 6 and walked 2, one intentionally.
"I was leaving the ball up those first couple of innings," Sitter said. "I couldn't find the knees. I was throwing hard, but I was throwing belt high and anyone can hit that pitch. After those first two or three innings I was just sailing because everything was at the knees or below, and that's where I work."
Elgin scored its only run in the sixth inning. Alex Buttell singled with one out and scampered to third base on a wild pickoff throw by Ward. Sitter's RBI groundout trimmed the deficit to 3-1.
Elgin's Brandon Higdon singled to open the bottom of the seventh, but a potential rally was snuffed out when Pye fielded a groundball to second base and flipped it to shortstop Jeff Mayes, who turned the second 4-6-3 double play of the game for the Hawks. It was the first time this season Hoffman Estates turned two double plays in a game.
"Jeff is pretty solid out there," Pye said. "I just had to flip it up right to him. Jimmy's going to give us grounders. We're just doing our job."
The Maroons stranded three runners in scoring position and were unable to take advantage of Sitter's leadoff double in the fourth inning.
"That's just kind of the way it's been for us this season," coach David Foerster said. "We just couldn't really put it all together for a stretch. Whether it was a game, a week or a couple of weeks, we just weren't consistent all the way through. If we were good on the mound, we didn't produce enough baserunners or we didn't get the good defense. That was the frustrating part: not putting the full game together."