Elk Grove cancelled math class and added a division title Tuesday.
The Grenadiers won their first Mid-Suburban East baseball crown since 2006, upending host Palatine 8-4 to complete their league schedule. Elk Grove will play at Schaumburg on Friday for the MSL championship.
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"We are really excited," Elk Grove coach Terry Beyna said. "It is a great accomplishment for us and the guys and the school."
Beyna and his team might have needed a team of mathematicians to figure out the Grens' chances had they lost to Palatine. In that case, there would been a three-way tie for the East crown. And deciding the East representative for the title game could have come down to the fourth tiebreaker, involving total runs allowed in conference play.
But the victory ended all those permutations.
"We told the kids on the bus ride over what we needed to do," Beyna said. "Many of them couldn't sleep last night trying to figure things out. The bottom line was that we needed to win. And we did that."
Elk Grove senior Adam O'Malley, who pitched all 7 innings to pick up the victory and added a pair of hits, said he and his teammates didn't want to share the title with anyone.
"We had to do that for football," O'Malley said. "And we aren't good at sharing.
"I didn't have my best stuff today. But my teammates picked me up and we hit the ball real well."
Elk Grove (20-9, 11-5) got all the runs it needed and half of its hits in the second inning. The Grens exploded for 5 runs, using a bit of trickery to set up the dynamite.
Brandon Post and Peter Arbov singled, and Christian Camacho hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Post. Austin Shallcross also singled, putting runners on the corners with two outs.
That's when Elk Grove went to the playbook. Shallcross went to steal second and stopped halfway, intentionally getting caught in a rundown. Palatine was watching Arbov at third. He stayed there, and Shallcross was able to avoid being tagged and made his safely to second base with a dive.
"My coach wanted me to steal and get into a rundown," Shallcross said. "When I saw the guy wasn't charging me hard and I had a short distance, I thought I could easily dive and make it. And that's what I did."
The Grens turned that play into a waterfall of runs as Matt Wary singled to center, driving home both runners and taking second himself on an error. Josh Bergbreiter singled home Wary and then stole second and came around to score on O'Malley's double.
Palatine (19-15, 9-7) was able to get on the board in its half of the second when Shane Devero singled to score Brad Bauer, who had doubled, to make the score 5-1.
Elk Grove got that run back in the third when Camacho drove a hit past a pulled-in infield to score Daryl Rivera.
Palatine's Zach Serna hit a mammoth homer to left, his 7th of the season, in the third. Matt Saltess had singled before the homer, and the Pirates closed to 6-3.
Elk Grove increased its lead to 7-3 in its next at bat. Rivera singled home Johnny Assimakopoulos, who had doubled, but the Pirates were able to avoid a big inning by throwing out two baserunners in the inning.
Palatine kept the pressure on when the Pirates were able to score a run in the fifth to make it 7-4. Nick Orlando singled and was able to advance to third on an error. He then scored on a balk.
Rivera gave the Grens some breathing room when he belted a homer in the 7th to make it 8-4.
"This one felt so much better," said Rivera, who hit his second homer of the season. "The conference title was it stake and it was great to contribute."
Beyna, O'Malley and all of Elk Grove just had to wait it for Wary to catch the final fly for the final out to get the celebration started.
"I am just really proud of the guys," Beyna said. "We had lots of things to overcome: A bad spring, some nagging injuries and other things. But these guys worked work hard to get this."
Palatine coach Paul Belo said that second inning was the difference.
"We didn't handle our first-and-third plays very well," said Belo, whose team will host a MSL crossover game on Wednesday. "They did a great job of hitting fastballs early in the count."