Baseball: Elgin Post 57 loses at Wheaton
By Gene Chamberlain For Sun-Times Media June 26, 2012 9:18PM
Luke Duffy fires a pitch for visiting Elgin Post 57 against a Wheaton hitter Tuesday. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 28, 2012 6:33AM
Elgin Post 57 went from a season peak to a valley in only a couple days.
Coming off a championship Sunday in Champaign’s Wooden Bat tournament at University of Illinois, Elgin’s American Legion team fared much worse switching back to the normal BBCOR bats against a strong Wheaton Post 76 pitching staff Tuesday and lost a road game 2-1.
“I think it’s just a matter of having better enthusiasm,” general manager-coach Bob Todd said. “I told them maybe I should have brought the wooden bats out because we scored 37 runs at the Champaign tournament and gave up a dozen or so the whole weekend.
“Then we come out here with these bats that the ball should be jumping off of and we strike out (10) times. It’s one of those things that happens.”
Elgin (13-4) went with a different lineup, as well, because three players couldn’t make the game at the last minute.
“We were missing some in Champaign and with us light on numbers, we played extremely well there,” Todd said. “I was worried about whether we’d have nine guys tonight.”
J.D. Joiner of Wheaton got the win by striking out four and allowing just two hits over five innings, before Justin Harrington and Andrew Mamlic each struck out the side in an inning of relief to finish the game. All told, Elgin managed just six hits, all singles. Post 57 did put two on in the final inning with singles by Chris Bingham and Nevan Jeske with one out, but Mamlic struck out Bryan Cynova and Tyler Rydin to end the game.
Player absences led to Luke Duffy starting the game for Post 57 and taking the loss. He went the distance, and after the second inning dominated, finishing with five strikeouts and allowing five hits without a walk.
Duffy had to make a big adjustment that had nothing to do with the bats. Wheaton’s field has been resurfaced with a complete artificial surface — there is no dirt, including the pitching mound.
“It was great, really,” Duffy said. “I didn’t have any problem with it. I wasn’t slipping on my plant foot.
“My problem was I got the ball up a little too much early in the game, then settled down.”
Wheaton got a first-inning run on Mike Rostine’s leadoff double and Ryan Gallagher’s one-out RBI single. The second run was the critical one and came thanks largely to an Elgin mistake.
Wheaton’s Ryan Jordan hit a second-inning leadoff double and after a pop out, Colin Ford hit another infield pop up. With the entire infield calling for the ball, no one came close to catching it as it landed just behind the mound for a hit that moved Jordan to third. Jordan then stole home as Ford was thrown out trying to steal second.
Elgin came back with a run in the third on Rydin’s two-out RBI single, scoring Jeske, who had walked and moved up on an infield out and passed ball.
“Jeske has been playing great for us at shortstop and hitting a ton,” Todd said.
The loss was the first by Post 57 in three District 11 Conference games, and it was a big one because Wheaton is unbeaten (4-0). Placement in the conference results in seeding for the postseason tournament.
“We have to keep this in perspective,” Todd said. “Last year they came to Wing Park and blew us out, but it may have given them some false feelings because when it counted in the tournament we came back and beat them 1-0.”
Post 57 plays at the Plainfield tournament this weekend.