April 22, 2003 11:00 pm

ELGIN — If not for a well-sealed tarp, the Elgin baseball team would have had to cancel its scheduled non-league doubleheader with the La Grande junior varsity Tuesday.

The rain came down in Elgin Tuesday morning. But, with their field ready, the Elgin Huskies pulled out a 9-6, 5-1 sweep.

"I'm seeing improvement in our team," Elgin coach Gordie Simons said. "It's slowly coming."

The Huskies played with nine kids.

"Kelby Witherspoon is doing an outstanding job defensively in center field," Simons said.

"Charlie Schumacher went the distance (pitching) and did wonderful," he added. "He's learning more every outing."

Blake Eckstein and Skyler Payne each hit a home run.

Payne pitched a no-hitter in game 2. The La Grande JV scored one run in the third inning.

"Our hitting is getting better," Simons said.

Simons said he was impressed with the La Grande JV team.

"We're still stranding too many runners," he said. "We're leaving too many runners on base. We still have a lot of work to do. We're getting it there."

Simons said the Huskies had some mental errors in the first game.

"Overall, a win is a win," he said.

The Huskies travel to Halfway to take on Pine-Eagle in a Wapiti League doubleheader Saturday.

La Grande JV 212 001 0 — 6 5 3

Elgin 400 023 x — 9 9 7

Nichols, Touve (5) and Hines; Schumacher and Eckstein.

Elgin hits — McDonald 2, Payne 2, Foster 2, Eckstein 2, Schumacher. HR — Eckstein. RBI — Foster 2, Eckstein 4, Schumacher 2, Diaz.

La Grande JV 001 000 0 — 1 0 4

Elgin 410 000 x — 5 5 x

Lequerica, Miller (6) and Hines; Payne and Eckstein.

Elgin hits — Payne, Eckstein, Diaz, Foster 2. HR — Payne. RBI — Payne, Eckstein, Foster, Diaz, McCrae.