Baseball: McHenry ends Larkin's season
Lleyton Grubich knew McHenry needed to score early and often if it wanted to open the postseason with a win.
The Warrior designated hitter launched two home runs and led the way in an eight-run second inning to help McHenry win its Class 4A Dundee-Crown regional semifinal game against Larkin, 13-3, in six innings Thursday.
"It feels good," Grubich said. "We've got to have some energy in the dugout and we're just going to keep rolling in the playoffs, keep winning."
Down 1-0 in the first inning, McHenry (25-8) tied the game when Cole Kersten drove in Cooper Cohn from third base on a double to center field.
Grubich started the big second inning when he hit a towering two-run home run to center field off Larkin starter Elijah Holst to make it 3-1 McHenry lead. Cohn later drove in a run off reliever Javier Cervantes on a double, and Kersten knocked in two more before Richard Powell III hit a two-run home run to left-center field to make it 8-1.
McHenry capped the second inning when Eddie Synek scored from second off an error made on a groundout.
Chase Witt drove in a run in the fifth, and Grubich ended the game on a three-run home run to center field in the sixth.
Gavin Micklinghoff had a strong start despite not having his best stuff. The McHenry starter threw five innings, striking out nine batters and allowing three runs on five hits. He walked two batters.
Powell III came in for an inning of relief and retired the side, striking out one batter.
"I don't think Gavin had his best stuff, but he threw strikes and kept us in it," McHenry coach Brian Rockweiler said. "Overall, I thought he did a good job."
Larkin (9-21) started the game strong when Holst drove in a run in the first inning on a sacrifice fly to center field. He drove in two more runs in the third on a double to center field to make it a 9-3 McHenry lead.
While the Royals couldn't come back to win the playoff opener, Larkin coach Niko Morado was proud of the way his young team battled.
"It's a big step for us as a young team to be in a ballgame like this and to see a couple good arms like that," Morado said. "I think it's a step in the right direction for our future."
McHenry will play either Streamwood or Fox Valley Conference foe Dundee-Crown, who meet in the other semifinal Friday, for the regional title at 11 a.m. Saturday.
The Warriors won both regular-season meetings against D-C and did not play Streamwood.
While both Rockweiler and Grubich agreed McHenry didn't play a complete game with an error and other mistakes on the field, the Warriors aren't changing anything up as they move on in the postseason.
"We just need to stay doing what we've been doing," Rockweiler said. "For the last couple months, just be who we are."