Baseball: Elgin, Larkin ready to renew crosstown rivalry
By Erik Jacobsen email@example.com May 14, 2012 8:48PM
Gage Teschner leads Elgin into a three-game series against rival Larkin this week. | Karen Naess ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 16, 2012 12:08AM
There is always a little extra energy in the air when Elgin and Larkin meet on the playing field, and this week’s three-game Upstate Eight River series between the schools should be no different.
The festivities begin Tuesday night when the Maroons and Royals square off at 6 p.m. at Trout Park. Dave Cooklin, who coached at Elgin High for 25 years and is retiring from teaching at the end of the school year, will throw out a ceremonial first pitch before the game.
The scene shifts to Larkin for Wednesday’s tilt, which starts at 4:30 p.m. The series wraps up with another 6 p.m. start at Trout Park on Thursday.
Elgin (11-20, 5-17) and Larkin (9-21, 6-16) might not have the best records around, but they’ve both picked off a few impressive wins throughout the season. With both teams gearing up for next week’s Class 4A Larkin Regional, a strong showing in this series would provide a big boost for either side.
“It’s nice to have this series at the end where it is right before the playoffs because it’s like playing three playoff games,” Larkin coach Matt Esterino said. “They’ve done a good job over at Elgin this year. It seems like we’re pretty well matched for each other.”
The Maroons have indeed seen an uptick in success this season. Their 11 victories this spring are one more than the 10 games the program combined to win in 2010 and 2011.
Consistent production from several key players is a big reason why Elgin has remained more competitive. Senior catcher Gage Teschner leads the team with a .385 batting average and 19 RBI while senior pitcher Alex Doty boasts a 3-3 record to go along with a 1.98 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 46 innings.
The Royals enter the series with six losses in their past seven games. A lack of offensive production is the main culprit for Larkin’s recent woes. The Royals have been held to two runs or fewer in 14 of their past 17 games.
Larkin has gotten solid pitching from brothers Austin and Brayden Royse. Austin, a senior, is 3-5 with a 2.58 ERA while Brayden, a sophomore, is 3-4 with a 3.18 ERA.
“You always expect a close game between us and Larkin,” Elgin coach Dave Foerster said. “We’ve both had a lot of experience in these close games this year with our offenses being a little down, so it’s just a matter of throwing strikes and making routine plays.”
The Royals took two out of three from the Maroons last year and have won five of the past seven against their crosstown rivals.
UEC River title up for grabs
There are rivalry matchups all over the area this week as South Elgin takes on District U46 rival Bartlett and Dundee-Crown squares off with District 300 rival Jacobs. But the three-game series between St. Charles East and St. Charles North surpasses all the neighborhood showdowns in terms of importance.
The Saints (19-9, 17-5) enter the series clinging to a one-game lead on the North Stars (22-10, 16-6) in the UEC River standings. Geneva (22-7, 15-7) is lurking right behind, two games in back of St. Charles East.
The all-time series between the Saints and North Stars is tied 15-15, so something will have to give during the three-game set, which begins Tuesday at St. Charles East, continues Wednesday at St. Charles North and concludes Thursday at Elfstrom Stadium in Geneva. The Saints are gunning for their second straight UEC River title after claiming a share of the championship last year.
Here’s a look at where other conference races involving local schools stand going into the final week of the regular season:
• Burlington Central (22-8, 9-1) wrapped up a share of the Big Northern East title last week. The division championship is the third in the past four years for the Rockets, who shared the crown with Richmond-Burton.
• Westminster Christian (18-11, 9-1) clinched the outright Northeastern Athletic title with a doubleheader sweep of Rockford Christian-Life on Saturday.
• Neuqua Valley locked up the outright UEC Valley crown on Saturday. South Elgin enters the final week tied for second place while Bartlett is in fifth.
• Grayslake Central already wrapped up the outright Fox Valley Fox championship. Hampshire is in fourth place in the division with one conference game to go.
• The FVC Valley championship race is going down to the wire as Crystal Lake South (16-3 in league games) has already clinched at least a share of the title, but Prairie Ridge (15-3) can tie the Gators by winning at Cary-Grove on Wednesday . Jacobs (11-7) is in fourth, Huntley (10-8) is in fifth and Dundee-Crown (5-13) is in seventh in the division.