Max Keough’s first effort on the mound didn’t quite turn out the way he wanted Saturday in South Elgin’s season-opening loss to Cary-Grove.
Monday’s first start in a nonconference road game went decidedly better, however, as the junior right-hander rebounded from letting in the winning run during a brief relief stint to defeat Hampshire and junior Alex Crinigan 4-1.
“I thought I threw strikes like I needed to, at least compared to last time when I didn’t throw strikes,” Keough said. “This time I was getting the ground balls.”
Keough went the distance, striking out six and walking one. He allowed only three hits. Keough seemed to get stronger as the game wore on, as he allowed only an infield single after giving up a run in the third.
“I felt like after the inning I gave up that run I just kind of coasted,” Keough said.
Keough allowed a Colin Gogoel double off the wall in left, just three feet short of clearing for a home run, and then an RBI ground out by Michael Kruz, but nothing else for South Elgin (1-1).
“He changed speeds, threw his curve over and did a very nice job,” Storm coach Jim Kating said. “He’ll be right there in our rotation battling behind Ryan (Nutof).”
In his first varsity start for Hampshire (2-4), Crinigan also went the distance and gave up six hits with six strikeouts and a walk.
“For his first outing, he pitched well enough to win the game,” Whip-Purs coach John Sarna said. “He made a couple mistakes, but other than that he did a good job.”
Nick Menken gave South Elgin the runs it needed with a sacrifice fly to center in the third and a two-out RBI single in the fifth. Two of the runs allowed by Crinigan were unearned as Hampshire committed four errors.
Menken broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth after Justin Bryski reached on an error and Dan Toppel singled.
“Coach put the hit-and-run on,” Menken said. “I saw fastball and decided to square it up. I was fortunate that the shortstop was going to cover second base.”
The hit went right through the hole vacated at short and Bryski was able to come around from second for the go-ahead run. Then South Elgin added insurance in the seventh on Antonio Danesi’s two-out RBI single and on Toppel’s theft of home when he and Danesi executed the walk-off for a double steal.
“We just made too many mistakes — offensively, defensively,” Sarna said after his team lost its third straight. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. Hopefully we can get on practice field and get in the work we need to in order to be competitive with a team like South Elgin.”