Baseball: Hulligan's gem lifts Buffalo Grove over Elk Grove

For 24 hours Buffalo Grove's Mason Hulligan has been on top of the world.

On late Sunday evening the Bison senior pitcher tweeted out that he had committed to Illinois Wesleyan. He then followed up Monday afternoon, throwing six scoreless innings.

Then, for good measure, Hulligan, who hardly ever bats for himself, added his first two varsity hits as Buffalo Grove blanked Elk Grove 2-0 Monday in Buffalo Grove.

With the win, Hulligan, who is 5-1 on the season, is the winningest pitcher in Northwest Cook.

"It is a big change and a great 24 hours," said Hulligan, who allowed just one hit while striking out six.

"I was happy to get the dub today. The slider has been good all season."

Buffalo Grove coach Bill Montemayor said Hulligan has been solid for the Bison all season.

"Mason has been outstanding all season," Montemayor said. "His numbers speak for themselves. He is one of the best pitchers in the area. Anytime he is in the mound we feel pretty confident."

With Hulligan keeping Elk Grove in check, Buffalo Grove (9-7, 3-3) was able to steal their way back into the MSL East race.

Michael Wolverton stole a pair of bases for the Bison. On each occasion, the junior was able to set up himself to score, plating both of the Bison runs.

"I have been running a lot this year," Wolverton said. "Over the off-season I got a lot faster. I put a lot of work in here and in the weight room. It helped out a lot."

Wolverton walked to lead off the bottom of the first. He promptly stole second and went to third on Peyton Diaz' sharp single. Wolverton then scored on a wild pitch to put the Bison up 1-0.

With one out in the third, Wolverton reached on a single. Again he stole second. He came around to score on Griffin Kelly's single to make it 2-0.

Hulligan got solid defense to hold down Elk Grove (8-5, 3-3). The Bison turned a double play started by Wolverton to stymie the Grenadiers in the fourth.

After Hulligan allowed his only hit, a two-out double by David Garza, Hulligan induced a groundout to Wolverton to end the threat.

"The infield was insane," said Hulligan, who had eight ground ball putouts.

"I love having backup. It just make things easier for me."

Montemayor said that his team had been struggling defensively this season.

"That is the best we played defensively in a long time," Montemayor said. "The last catch by Peyton (Diaz) was phenomenal."

Elk Grove flashed some leather themselves to keep the Grens in the game.

Garza, who went six innings and allowed just six hits, helped himself in two key situations.

He snagged a line drive and turned a double play in the second. In the fifth, with the bases loaded, he came off the mound and made a terrific catch in front of his team's dugout to end the inning.

Buffalo Grove turned the tables on Garza in the top of the seventh.

Diaz came on in relief of Hulligan, who had thrown 101 pitches. After a strikeout, Diaz surrendered a pair of singles. But Diaz ended the game when he snagged Garza's line shot up the middle and then threw to first to close out the game.

"Sometimes the little things matter," Elk Grove coach Steve Lesniak said. "That was evident today. Their pitcher kept us off balance. A couple of mistakes here and there cost us. Garza pitched good enough to win."

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