After being hit hard by Prospect last Wednesday, Elk Grove pitcher Adam O'Malley knew he needed a huge effort Saturday when his Grenadiers hosted Prospect.
"I got knocked around pretty good on Wednesday," O'Malley said. "So I had a different mindset today."
With a better focus, and the Elk Grove bats coming alive, O'Malley and his team surged past Prospect 6-1. That helped the Grenadiers (14-6, 7-2) move into sole possession of first place in the MSL East baseball race.
"To be able to bounce back and salvage the split is real key for us," said Elk Grove coach Terry Beyna, whose team lost to Prospect 5-4 in 8 innings on Wednesday.
"In terms of keeping the season in your own hands,if you lost two to somebody, you probably need some help there."
O'Malley, who was the losing pitcher Wednesday to Prospect (13-7, 6-3) gave his team help on and off the mound.
The senior went the distance, allowing just 5 hits while striking out 3. He also helped with his bag, driving in 2 runs with a pair of hits and a sacrifice fly.
"My fielders were making big plays and they had my back," O'Malley said. "It was good to be swinging it well too."
Beyna, who along with all the area teams struggling for pitching depth with the wet weather crunching the schedule, thought O'Malley's performance was big for his team.
"Adam threw a complete game for us today and that was huge," Beyna said.
O'Malley and Elk Grove got a run in the first inning without getting a hit. Josh Bergbreiter was hit by a pitch, then stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error. Bergbreiter then scored on O'Malley's sacrifice fly to left.
Prospect threatened to tie the game in the third, but a pair of defensive gems by second baseman Christian Camacho ket Prospect off the board.
After Prospect's Jake Cavaiani had a lead odd single he was bunted to second. Camacho then dove to stop a hard grounder up the middle and threw the batter out at first for the second out. Camacho ended the inning with a leaping catch on a hard line drive by Grant Gerdes.
"I am just doing what I can to help my team," said Camacho, who was pulled up from the sophomore squad to give the Grenadiers some defensive depth and has been coming up huge since his call-up.
"It is great playing with the varsity team. All the guys are real supportive and I have learned so much."
Elk Grove came back to push another run across in its half of the third. Daryl Rivera doubled home Matt Smalley, who was a courtesy runner for O'Malley after he led off the inning with a single. But the Knights got out of the inning when pitcher Justin Placko induced a pop up on a suicide squeeze and caught the ball on the fly and doubled off the runner when he walked the ball to third.
The Grens were able to do some damage in the fourth. Bergbreiter doubled home Camacho, who had singled to lead off the inning. O'Malley helped himself by singling home Matt Wary, who had reached on an error.
Prospect threatened to get back into the game in the fifth when the Knights put together a mini rally with two outs. Pat Donohue and Gerdes singled, and Donohue scored on a double by Mike Piotrowski. But O'Malley settled down to get a strike out to end the inning.
Elk Grove got runs in each of their run back in their next two at-bats. Camacho got his third hit of the game to score Brandon Post, who had reached with one out on his second hit of the day. Johnny Assimakopolous doubled home Bergbreiter in the sixth.
Prospect coach Ross Giusti said a slow start doomed his squad.
"We were real lethargic," Giusti said. "We had a lack of communication on defense. That set the tone in the beginning.
"I give their kid (O'Malley) lots of credit. He pitched a great game."