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updated: 5/30/2016 9:25 PM

Baseball: Camacho, Elk Grove produce regional triumph

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By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent

If it was regional final time for Elk Grove's baseball team, that means it was Camacho time.

The Grenadiers knocked off Loyola Academy 7-2 Monday at Maine West thanks to another solid pitching effort from senior Christian Camacho.

Elk Grove (25-12) moves into the sectionals for the first time since 2013 when David Camacho, Christian's older brother, pitched the Grens to a regional title.

"He has been teasing me about him winning a regional title for quite a while," said Christian Camacho, who improve to 12-1 on the season. "He came up to me after the game and said 'Now we both have one.' "

Camacho and his teammates, who were seeded No. 4, advance to the Loyola sectional semifinals on Wednesday, where they will meet top seed Oak Park at 5 p.m.

"It is tough to win a regional," said Elk Grove coach Terry Beyna, who after winning the MSL title the last three years and coming up short at the regional the past two times had his team bring home some postseason hardware. "We have had some quality opponents in the early rounds the last couple of years. But the kids were able to get it done this year."

Camacho, who had not pitched since the Mid-Suburban title game 10 days ago, went 6-plus innings. He struck out nine and allowed 5 hits before leaving in the seventh, when he jammed his thumb getting out of the way of a line drive.

"It feels fine," Camacho said. "I was able to get a rhythm on the mound and go from there.

"Early run support is always good. I was able to relax a lot. Everyone from the top of the lineup to the bottom contributed."

The Grens banged out 14 hits against three different Loyola pitchers with eight Elk Grove batters getting in on the fun. A.J. Navarro had 3 hits including a pair of doubles, while Camacho, Chuck Fleming, Ryan Uehara and Nick Hoffman had 2 hits each.

"It was the whole team," said Fleming, who will play at Southern Illinois next year. "If you put in play, good things will happen."

Beyna said his team has been seeing the ball quite well in the latter part of the season.

"Lately, I feel, that we have been swinging the bats pretty well," Beyna said. "We have been working very hard at it. I would like to think that this time of the year it is the time to be really sharp."

The Grens were solid offensively, putting runners on base in all but one inning.

Elk Grove was able to get on the board in the second. Navarro doubled with one out, and Jakub Sokol hit a slow roller to second and was able to beat the throw, which was off target and allowed Navarro to score.

The Grens tallied 3 runs in the fourth and fifth innings to blow the game open.

Elk Grove loaded the bases with no outs when Fleming and Navarro each singled and Sokol was hit by a pitch. Fleming scored on a sweet slide after a flyball by Uehara. Hoffman had a single to right, scoring Navarro, and Uehara tallied on Camacho's bloop double down the left field line.

Knowing that they wanted to give their ace even more support, Elk Grove came right back an inning later.

Jack McEnroe had a long double and scored on Fleming's single. Navarro nailed his second double to the gap, scoring Fleming, and Hoffman had a two-out single to push Fleming across.

"Just don't let us get hot," Navarro said. "Don't let us get hot. I am seeing the ball real well right now and I am not trying to do too much."

Hoffman, who is a freshman, had a pair of RBI in key situations for the Grens.

"I just wanted to do whatever I could to help my team win," said Hoffman, who was a late-season call-up. "I just came up with runners in scoring position, so I wanted to put the ball in play. I just wanted to get those runs because Christian was throwing a great game."

Loyola (21-15) was able to push a couple of runs across the board in the top of the seventh. The Ramblers made it a bit interesting when they loaded the bases with two outs. Jonathan Maday, who came on to relieve Camacho, struck out Loyola No. 3 hitter Liam McKeough to end the game.

"To play under pressure and come home with a regional title is very sweet," Beyna said. "But we aren't ready to be done yet and the kids feel they have a lot more baseball left in them."

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