Many teams have struggled with power in the cold early season. But Elgin, notorious in recent years for hitting woes, has been the exception to the rule.
After Ryan Sitter’s grand slam for the Maroons’ sixth home run of the season, and a 12-3 victory over visiting Streamwood in Upstate Eight River play Wednesday, it’s safe to say no one on Elgin is worried about scoring.
“Our strength has been our offense this year,” Elgin coach Dave Foerster said. “We’re running well, too. We’ve got some speed.”
They didn’t need to run much after Sitter launched a fastball opposite field to right in the second inning after Omar Valadez and winning pitcher Clay White reached on errors and Tom Sobeski reached on a fielder’s choice.
“I’ve had a problem my entire life with hitting by just taking too big a swing at everything and trying to kill everything,” Sitter said. “Finally, this year I’ve really started to hit the ball to right field, something I’ve never been able to do. I’ve been working on it the past couple years and I’ve really gotten it down to staying short and quick to the ball, keeping everything quiet as coach likes to say.”
The shot off losing pitcher Collin Tatone (0-1) was Sitter’s second homer of the season. It gave Elgin a 7-1 advantage and Streamwood never got closer than four again. The jack didn’t bother Sabres coach Ryan Lasota as much as what preceded it: two of Streamwood’s five errors.
“With five errors, you’re not going to give yourself a very good chance to win a game,” he said. “We were bad all around and we haven’t had too many of those.
“We were hoping we were going to bounce back better than we did today.”
The Sabres had lost 6-5 to Elgin in nine innings to open the series Tuesday when the Maroons had six extra-base hits. On Wednesday, the Sabres didn’t appear bothered by the tough loss as leadoff hitter Eric Hamlin walked and moved up on a sacrifice and passed ball before scoring on Chad Caminitti’s ground out.
However, Elgin came right back in the first with three runs to back White (2-0), who struck out three, allowed three hits and walked three in five innings. Kiko Mari’s sacrifice fly and Jack Koeckritz’s single drove in runs, then freshman Eric Whiteman singled in a run. It was the first of four hits in four at-bats on the day by Whiteman, who is one of three freshmen recently promoted to varsity. He doubled in the second, singled home a run in the four-run fourth and singled in another in the fifth.
“He’s not afraid of the moment,” Foerster said. “He’s a varsity soccer player, so he’s used to playing in a varsity atmosphere.”
White had two hits and four runs scored, Sitter also had a single in the first, Mari drove in two runs and Koeckritz went 2-for-4 with an RBI for Elgin (5-6, 3-5).
The Sabres (4-10, 2-6) had a two-run double by Hamlin but nothing else off White and reliever Omar Valadez (two innings, two strikeouts, no hits).
“You’ve just got to turn the page,” Lasota said. “We’ve got to play Streamwood baseball. We talk about it all the time: playing seven innings clean.
“This team is pretty good at being able to bounce back and turn the page.”