Elk Grove's Josh Bergbreiter hates when runners attempt to screen him on groundballs when he is playing shortstop for the Grenadiers.
Bergbreiter was able to reverse those fortunes to help his team rally for 4 runs in the ninth inning as Elk Grove blanked host Schaumburg 4-0 Friday in the Mid-Suburban League baseball championship game.
"Being a shortstop, I know it is tough when you are screened," Bergbreiter said. "So I just tried to do that and luckily the ball got past."
It was the first MSL title for Elk Grove since 2006, when the Grenadiers beat Palatine in extra innings.
"Hats off to all the pitchers," Elk Grove coach Terry Beyna said. "You knew at some point someone was going to break through."
It was the second victory for Elk Grove (21-10) over Schaumburg this week after the Grens beat the Saxons 6-2 last Monday.
Bergbreiter walked with one out in the ninth. He then stole second and was waiting for his opportunity.
"We told our guys to stick to our approach," said Beyna, who had two previous baserunners thrown out stealing.
"We wanted to keep trying to put pressure on them and keep trying to steal bases and stick with our game."
That theory came to fruition when Adam O'Malley drilled a hard grounder to short, Bergbreiter did his best to stand in front of Schaumburg's Joe Franz until the ball shot past the Saxon shortstop. Bergbreiter then got on his horse and was able to score the game's first run.
"I was just trying to hit the ball hard," said O'Malley, who picked up the win by pitching the last 4 innings. "I pitched better today than earlier this week. I felt more comfortable on the mound and had more confidence out there."
That play helped open the floodgates for the Grenadiers. Daryl Rivera doubled home a run. Pinch runner Taylor O'Connor scored on Brandon Post's sacrifice fly and pinch runner Matt Eder scored Peter Arbov's second hit of the game as Elk Grove opened up a 4-0 lead.
"It felt real good to be out there with 4-run lead," O'Malley said. "I just tried to challenge their hitters."
Both teams were magnificent putting on a pitching and defensive clinic before that.
On the mound, Brendan Beck from Schaumburg matched Elk Grove's Ty Lawson and O'Malley through 8 innings. Beck allowed just 2 hits in his first 8 innings while Lawson, who pitched the first 5 innings for the Grens, and O'Malley combined to just allow 3 hits.
"I had good command," said Lawson, who returned to the mound last week after being out with a leg injury. "I wasn't surprised to get the start. I felt composed. I did some deep breathing and I could have longer, but coach made the call and it worked out."
Beck allowed just 4 hits while striking out 3. Lawson fanned 3 while O'Malley struck out 2.
There were numerous defensive gems turned in by both teams helping the pitchers keep runners off the bases.
Bergbreiter turned in three tough plays for the Grenadiers while Arbov, who plays third, second baseman Christian Camacho and Post, who plays center, also turned in tough plays.
For the Saxons, Franz along with third baseman Ryan Woloszyk and catcher Connor Quinn, who threw out two Elk Grove baserunners attempting to steal, all came up with big defensive plays.
Schaumburg (16-10) had the best chance in regulation to score.
The Saxons put runners on first and third in the fourth. Michael Fan walked and Tyler Teele won a 10-pitch battle with Lawson to get his first of 2 hits for the game. But Lawson got a strikeout to end the threat.
"Beck did a terrific job for us," Schaumburg coach Cal Seely said. "He did everything we could ask for and more. It was a MSL championship. You expect a game like this."