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updated: 5/7/2014 9:52 PM

McCracken, Larkin turn the tables on Geneva

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By Scott Miller
Daily Herald Correspondent

Larkin's Jack McCracken did exactly what you would expect an ace pitcher to do on Wednesday when his team is trying to get back on the winning track. The senior right-hander tossed a 4 hit complete game gem as the Royals snapped a 2 game slide with a 2-1 Upstate Eight Conference River Division win over Geneva.

The game was delayed for nearly an hour in the first inning because of lightning.

McCracken (5-2) threw just 75 pitches. He struck out 3 and walked none.

"I am running out of things to say about him," Larkin coach Matt Esterino said. "It is just phenomenal for a high school pitcher how intelligent he is out on the mound. He just pounds the strike zone with all three of his pitches and he works so efficiently."

McCracken surrendered his only run with one out in the sixth inning, but retired the next 2 batters with a groundout and a strikeout to leave the tying run stranded at second base.

"I had all three of my pitches working today," McCracken said. "And I had good location. I rarely throw as hard as I can and that allows me to really reach back for something extra when I need to and that's what I did (in the sixth inning)."

The Royals (9-14, 5-10) managed just 5 hits, but made the most of them. Brayden Royse drove in both runs for Larkin with a pair of RBI singles. The Royals scored their first run when Royse roped a two-out opposite field single to right in the third inning to score John Jowalski, who had reached on an error. Royce again went the opposite way in the fifth to score Tyler Kalusa, who had walked and stole second.

"He was working the outside part of the plate, so I was going up there looking to take it the other way," said Royse. "I choked up a little and just tried to get the bat on the ball."

"Brayden is just one of those rare guys that transcends every one on the team," Esterino said. "He has done a great job of adjusting to the 3 hole this season and has become a great leader for us."

The Royals were coming off back-to-back losses to Elgin on Monday and Geneva on Tuesday. They finish up the 3-game series against the Vikings on Thursday.

"It was a well-played game for us," Esterino said. "This is the way we need to play. We scratched across a couple runs. Then went out and pitched and played defense."

Geneva's Bret Reed turned in a nice complete-game pitching performance of his own, allowing just 1 earned run, but took the tough luck loss. Ben Chally had an RBI single for the Vikings (14-8).

"You have to give them credit," said Geneva assistant coach Fred Fortman, filling in for head coach Matt Hahn. "Their pitcher was hitting his spots all game. Plus they did a great job of taking the ball the other way to score their runs. On the other hand we didn't take the ball to the opposite field once today."

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