The Bartlett baseball team on Monday earned the chance to spring another postseason upset.
Pitching on his familiar home mound, senior right-hander Doug VanDyke minimized the damage from Elgin threats in the second, third and seventh innings to complete a 5-3 victory in the regional opener. The win improved the Hawks to 6-0 in regional games since 2012.
"I wasn't at my sharpest, but I had to battle and get through it," said VanDyke (3-4), who allowed 7 hits and walked a pair but struck out 8.
The win advances No. 15 Bartlett (14-16) to Wednesday's Class 3A York regional semifinal against No. 1 seed and outright Upstate Eight River champion Batavia (29-3-1), which was last beaten on April 23 at St. Charles East.
Batavia clobbered Bartlett 10-0 on April 8, but history gives the Hawks hope. A regional champion each of the last two seasons, Bartlett upset No. 1 seed Geneva in a regional semifinal in 2012. The Vikings entered that contest with a 25-3 record.
"We know they are a quality team up and down, a very athletic team," Bartlett coach Chris Pemberton said of Batavia. "We've before had to climb the ladder, so we're looking forward to the challenge on Wednesday."
Batavia was a No. 2 seed last season when it was upset by Hoffman Estates in a regional semifinal. "I think we can do the same thing to them this year," Bartlett shortstop Cory Krolikowski said.
Krolikowski's confidence has been on the rise in recent weeks since he found a home in the nine-hole in Bartlett's batting order. Throughout the regular season he bounced between the Nos. 2 and 5 spots in the lineup and was hitting .276 on May 13.
On Saturday against Elgin, he went 2-for-3 with a double and 2 RBI to improve his average to .338, the third-best average of any Hawk with at least 50 at-bats.
"I've seen a lot more fastballs these past few weeks and I've really come alive at the plate," Krolikowski said. "I feel like I've been able to contribute to the team a lot better."
Miles Zilinsky's first-inning double gave Bartlett a 1-0 lead against Elgin starting pitcher Kiko Mari (1-6).
Elgin left the bases loaded in the top of the second inning when VanDyke struck out the No. 9 hitter. Bartlett then added to its lead with Krolikowski's second-inning double, followed by a run-scoring squeeze bunt by Mike Wick.
The Maroons broke through in the third inning when a two-out, 2-run double by junior Clay White trimmed the deficit to 3-2.
"For the most part I was just thinking first-pitch strike because (VanDyke) is always trying to get ahead in the count right away," White said. "I jumped on the first pitch because I knew it was going to be a fastball."
However, the Maroons left runners at second and third when Bartlett second baseman Cal Fanselow snagged a line drive off the bat of Jack Koeckritz to end the inning.
Elgin threatened in the seventh when Kirtan Patel led off with a single and Sitter drew a walk. However, VanDyke induced a groundball to Krolikowski at shortstop. He fielded the big hop, stepped on second and threw to first for the double play.
"I was shading over for double-play depth and they gave me the Sunday hop," Krolikowski said. "It definitely swung the momentum to our team and the intensity switched from their side to our side."
White (3 RBI) followed with a two-out single to score Patel and cut it to 5-3, but Van Dyke struck out the potential tying run on a 2-2 count to end it.
Elgin's 9 wins this season were 2 more than in 2013, not bad considering No. 1 pitcher, Sitter, did not take the mound this year due to shoulder issues.
"Without having Ryan throwing, that hurt," Elgin coach David Foerster said. "That was a big loss for us because it changed around everything defensively as well. The seniors were a great group, a tight group, and they showed a lot of leadership throughout the program. The juniors and sophomores learned from that and can take their leadership up a step."