A couple of Elgin Post 57’s college players have taken the lead role in putting the American Legion team in a strong position heading into the weekend’s final rounds of the District 11 tournament.
Pitcher Luke Duffy, the only holdover from an Elgin team that finished second in the state in 2011, and Elgin Community College’s Ryan Ford helped Post 57 get back up after taking an early hit in second-round tournament play Wednesday night and Elgin earned an 8-3 victory over New Lenox at Elgin’s Wing Park.
“Throughout the year we’ve gotten beat some teams, but can beat any team when we show up and put our mind to it,” said Ford, who entered Wednesday’s game hitting .370 in the leadoff spot. ”I like our chances against any of these teams, especially if we’re swinging the bats like this.”
Duffy shrugged off an early home run by New Lenox’s Greg Wymer to strike out 10 and allow eight hits over seven innings, and Ford produced a 4-for-5 night in Elgin’s 10-hit attack. As a result, top-seeded Elgin (19-7) is playing Friday at 4:30 p.m. against tournament host Wheaton Post 76 in a battle of the lone remaining tournament unbeatens. The winner of that game waits for a challenger to arise from the losers bracket Saturday at 11 a.m. in the finals.
Duffy is a safety for the Washington University (St. Louis) football team, who also played a reserve role for the baseball team at the Division III school.
“I played outfield, didn’t get to pitch,” he said. “I wanted to come back here and play this summer. I’ve only got a few more years left to play the game and like it a lot.
“I’m planning to keep playing in college, too.”
For Post 57, Duffy is 4-0 after allowing Wymer’s first-inning solo homer, and then shutting down New Lenox.
Ford didn’t bat leadoff for ECC last season, but is handling the spot well for Post 57. He brought Elgin right back after Wymer’s home by doubling and moving up to third on an errant relay. Then he scored the tying run on Mike Murphy’s sacrifice fly. In the second, Ford hit a two-run single after losing pitcher Zach Stacey had walked three straight and allowed a go-ahead RBI single by Riley Halter. Murphy added an RBI single and Nick Binder a run-scoring ground out.
Then Elgin added two in the fifth after New Lenox had pulled within 6-3 with two in the top of the fifth.
Elgin won the game without the help of its top two hitters, South Elgin’s Joe Crivolio and David Palmer. The two had missed the regular-season finale on vacation.
“It’s what we have done all year when players miss,” manager/coach Bob Todd said.
Duffy had been regarded as the team’s third or possibly fourth pitcher behind Palmer and Alex Wolfe and possibly Crivolio. Now Elgin has Palmer, Wolfe and Crivolio rested and ready to throw in the weekend games of the double elimination tourney.
“We’ve got our ones, twos and threes lined up,” Todd said. “I’m sure (Wheaton) will have one of their better two guys, too.”
Wheaton will automatically qualify for Division tournament play as the host team. So if Wheaton wins the title, the second-place team will also advance to Division.