Tal­bot rolls Elk­ton in state opener

Led­ford picks up the ‘W’ vs. fa­mil­iar tour­na­ment foe

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By DAVID INSLEY

Spe­cial to the Whig

— In re­cent years, the Tal­bot and Elk­ton se­nior league base­ball teams have bat­tled one an­other fre­quently in the state play­offs.

Much of it has gone Elk­ton’s way, the team hav­ing lost to Tal­bot in the early rounds in 2010 and 2015, only to win out there­after, and take the state crown. Tal­bot had to get by Elk­ton in the 2011 state tour­na­ment in Wal­dorf, en route to be­com­ing the state’s first-ever Se­nior League World Se­ries par­tic­i­pant.

Satur­day at Jaycee Park, Tal­bot, this year’s Dis­trict 6 champ once again, fired an­other strong salvo against Elk­ton, blow­ing out the de­fend­ing state and Dis­trict 5 cham­pion, 11-1, in five in­nings.

Elk­ton (2-1) played an elim­i­na­tion game Sun­day at 1 p.m. against Dis­trict 1 champ Mau­gansville, which lost 4-1 to St. Mary’s, the Dis­trict 7 champ, in Satur­day’s other state tour­na­ment game.

Right-han­der Ma­son Led­ford got the win, go­ing four in­nings and al­low­ing no runs on two hits, need­ing just 49 pitches. Bran­don Latham pitched the fifth, dur­ing which Elk­ton scored a sin­gle run to bust up Tal­bot’s try for a shutout.

“I think lo­cat­ing my fast­ball worked best for me to­day,” said Led­ford, who struck out

SALISBURY

two, “but also, the de­fense be­hind me, they played re­ally well be­hind me, didn’t make any big mis­takes.”

Tal­bot and Elk­ton both went down in or­der in the first, and each wasted a lone base hit in the sec­ond.

The Dis­trict 6 cham­pi­ons took a 1-0 lead in the third, the brief rally killed by a call at the plate, one of three on the day, that caused a pause in the game.

With two outs in the home third, Ryan Farr sin­gled, and stole sec­ond. Jimmy Hal­ter­man sin­gled to score him, and Kee­gan Bentz walked. Joe Smoloski fol­lowed by slap­ping a base hit to left. Hal­ter­man, waved home by Tal­bot man­ager Al­bert Pritch­ett from the third base coach’s box, came in just as out­fielder Jeremy Mullins fired to stop him.

Dis­trict 5 catcher Austin Goudeaux snared the throw, stand­ing per­haps a sin­gle step up the third base line from the dish, block­ing it. Hal­ter­man, in mid-air as he be­gan to slide in a home­plate cir­cle partly oc­cu­pied by the Elk­ton catcher, was tagged out on the play, end­ing the in­ning.

“I thought he had made a good slide,” Pritch­ett said. “But, they read the let­ter of the rule; you have to ei­ther slide or have to avoid con­tact. They judged he didn’t slide early enough, or well enough, to avoid con­tact. they heard my side of it, and they didn’t agree.

“There was no ques­tion that Jimmy was out, but Jimmy slid, in my opin­ion,” Pritch­ett added. “It hurts

to be with­out a start­ing in­fielder, but ... I think we can sur­vive that. This team has a lot of pieces. We had two guys out to­day; one (cen­ter fielder Luke Cum­mings) was on va­ca­tion (in North Carolina), and an­other, Bran­don Booze, was at a foot­ball camp out of state. To­mor­row, we’ll have ev­ery­one else back.”

Hal­ter­man, whose ab­bre­vi­ated slide ended in a col­li­sion with Goudeaux, one cleat hit­ting the Elk­ton catcher in his chest pro­tec­tor, was also ejected on the play, caus­ing an­other dis­pute. Once the dust set­tled and the de­bat­ing was over, how­ever, Hal­ter­man re­mained out, on the play as well as of the game, and the score re­mained 1-0, Tal­bot.

Elk­ton’s Colin Harkey, who took the loss on the mound, sin­gled to lead off the top of the fourth. When Ethan Wolfe, next up, flew out to cen­ter, Harkey grabbed sec­ond on an ill-ad­vised Tal­bot throw to first which sailed out of play.

The er­ror paid Elk­ton no div­i­dends, though, as Tal­bot’s Ryan Farr, play­ing cen­ter field, hauled in the next bat­ted ball as well, a Mullins fly ball — and dou­bled Harkey off sec­ond in an 8-6 play to end the in­ning.

Tal­bot erupted with its big­gest of­fen­sive out­burst of the day in the bot­tom of the fourth.

Jaden Cas­sell and Lo­gan Bail­lif be­gan it with walks; Led­ford sin­gled up the mid­dle to load the bases.

Elk­ton, which had just fin­ished win­ning the Dis­trict 5 tour­na­ment with an ex­train­ning vic­tory late Fri­day night, went to its bullpen, lefty Zach Wor­ton get­ting the nod.

“It was a late night for us last night,” said Elk­ton man­ager Bill Lor­man. “We’ve got more arms than we used to­day, but with some of them pitch­ing last night — we were down 8-0, and came back and won 9-8 in... ex­tra in­nings on a sui­cide-squeeze bunt — we couldn’t throw ev­ery­body we nor­mally might have thrown. ... We were sup­posed to be­gin our [dis­trict] tour­na­ment Tues­day, but we got rained out, and so we started it Thurs­day, and it got cut short. But we just went with it, and we man­aged to win, and make it back to states.”

Alek Rei­del greeted Wor­ton by slap­ping the first strike he threw to left field for a sin­gle, scor­ing Cas­sell to make it 2-0. Ja­cob Book, hit by a pitch, drove in Bail­lif to make it 3-0, and Ryan Farr came up next, hit­ting a high fly ball to right field.

It was a shal­low shot, and Elk­ton’s Wolfe ran in on it, grabbing it for the in­ning’s first out. He fired home to de­ter Led­ford, but the toss was too high, and hit the back­stop, a few steps up the third base line. Led­ford scored on the play, while Rei­del went to third and Book took sec­ond.

Sam Weis­man, hit­ting in Hal­ter­man’s spot, came up next, and blasted a high shot deep to left field.

“Hon­estly, I thought it was just a high pop-up at first,” Weis­man said. “But it kept car­ry­ing, go­ing, and next thing you know, it’s gone.”

The three-run homer, over the 12-foot left field fence, capped the in­ning, and made it 7-0.

Elk­ton got on the board in a top half of the fifth which saw two more dis­puted calls.

The first came when speedy des­ig­nated hit­ter Je­lani Brown, start­ing things off, hit a chop­per to the right side, and Weis­man, at first, went after it. Latham, a bit late to break to­ward the bag on the ball, got to first at around the same time as Brown. Weis­man, who didn’t han­dle the ball cleanly at first, flipped to his pitcher, but Brown was called safe on the bang­bang play.

Pritch­ett again ar­gued the call, but Brown stayed at first after the dis­cus­sion, safe on a tie go­ing to the baserun­ner.

Bruce Lucey’s ground ball to Bail­lif at third was good for the first out, and moved Brown to sec­ond base. Weis­man, try­ing to throw be­hind Brown right after the out, tossed it wide of sec­ond base, though, and Brown moved up one more base on the er­ror.

An­drew Goudeaux — Austin’s twin, and older than his brother by 45 min­utes — sin­gled to score Brown, mak­ing it 7-1. John Kil­vin’s base hit kept the in­ning go­ing. Austin Goudeaxu lined out hard to right field, the ball sail­ing too low and quickly for run­ners to have a chance to tag.

The game’s long­est in­ter­rup­tion came dur­ing the next at-bat, by Kyle Spencer. With a 1-2 count, Latham threw a curve ball on the out­side cor­ner, which Spencer waved at and missed, and Tal­bot catcher John Duty caught.

The home plate um­pire made an “out” sig­nal with his right hand, and Tal­bot be­gan to come off the field, believ­ing the third out be­ing recorded. But no ver­bal out call was made.

Duty rose from his crouch, and looked ready to toss the ball to the mound, as is cus­tom when an in­ning ends. But he held the ball, no one left the field, and Spencer, rather than head­ing to the dugout, slowly trot­ted to­ward first.

No throw came. Spencer reached safely, and both run­ners, al­ready in mo­tion on the pitch, moved up as well. After a mo­ment, play was stopped for the sec­ond time in the in­ning as Pritch­ett asked for a time­out, and con­ferred with um­pires again, this time over the third-strike call.

“I caught it,” Duty said of the pitch. “It didn’t hit the ground. If it had, I’d’ve thrown it to first like I al­ways do in that case.”

By rule, if a bat­ter swings at strike-three but the ball hits the ground, the bat­ter is al­lowed to try to run to first if the base is un­oc­cu­pied. A 14-minute stop­page en­sued, cul­mi­nat­ing in a call of a dropped third strike, and Spencer be­ing ruled safe at first on what was ruled a passed ball. The play loaded the bases, Elk­ton stay­ing alive with two outs.

Latham, how­ever, got the next hit­ter, Harkey, to ground up the mid­dle, forc­ing Spencer out at sec­ond to end the in­ning.

“You never know what to ex­pect in these tourna- ments,” Pritch­ett said of the state event, which al­most got moved to July 16 be­cause Dis­trict 5’s tour­na­ment was only partly com­plete as of Thurs­day. “We don’t usu­ally know the op­po­nents or the setup. But ... for the first game Ma­son threw very well. And re­ally Bran­don threw fairly well, though the one in­ning he pitched, it was kind of choppy for him to deal with, though, be­cause we con­tin­ued dis­cussing things.

“On the swing, the ini­tial call, I thought, was a [third strike], and out catcher cauht the ball. But then I think they [um­pires] thought maybe our catcher didn’t catch it cleanly, and [the bat­ter] ran. ... We prob­a­bly could’ve thrown the ball to first, at that point, but we didn’t. That was the re­sponse that could’ve put it to rest right away.

“After dis­cussing it, and after a phone call, the call... was changed,” Pritch­ett added. “But I don’t think it im­pacted the game a whole, though. ... Bran­don did a nice job and put it be­hind him, then got the out.”

Tal­bot iced things with a four-run fifth.

Cas­sell started the de­ci­sive rally when he reached on an er­ror; Bail­lif lofted a 1-0 fast­ball from Elk­ton re­liever An­drew Lor­man over the left field fence to make it 9-0. Rei­del sin­gled with one out, and two bat­ters later, so did Farr.

As Weis­man, up next, bat­ted, Farr stole sec­ond, putting the game-end­ing 11th run in scor­ing po­si­tion. Weis­man’s at-bat ended with a walk, the fourth ball skip­ping to the fence for a passed ball which brought Rei­del home. Bentz walked to load the bases, and Smoloski then hit a long fly ball to left. At the fence, it fell in for a game-end­ing sin­gle, as Farr came home to so­lid­ify the rout-rule, 11-1 win.

“We’ve got some pitch­ers. I don’t think that’s what cost us to­day. I think we’re much bet­ter than the score in­di­cated to­day,” Lor­man said. “Tal­bot had a bet­ter game than we did def­i­nitely. They’re a good team, but nor­mal game, I don’t think they’re a 10-run­bet­ter team than us. ... It’s deja vu all over again for us, though. We lost to them first game last year, and then won the next few and took states. We just have to do that again.”

“Los­ing the first game’s hard,” Lor­man added. “But we’ll come back to­mor­row and see what we can do. We’ve got a good team, and we lost a game early in last year’s tour­na­ment (in Mau­gansville), and we ran the ta­ble, and won the state tour­na­ment. So any­thing’s pos­si­ble.”

“If you win the first game in dou­ble elim­i­na­tion is key, if you lose the first game it’s a grind,” Pritch­ett said. “I’m glad to get that first win. I know Elk­ton won out last year, though, so we may see them again.”

“I think it’s big for us,” Weis­man added. “But now, we’ve got Ber­lin to­mor­row. And I think that’s go­ing to be our tough­est game so far.”

Bail­lif agreed. “Get­ting the first win’s huge,” he said. “Now we’ve got to come out and see if we can do it again.”

Satur­day’s game was moved up from 4 p.m. to 1 p.m., as a re­sult of two dis­tricts, 2 and 3, not send­ing teams, caus­ing the sev­en­team dou­ble-elim­i­na­tion bracket to be re­drawn to ac­com­mo­date five by Dis­trict 8 of­fi­cials.

Elk­ton de­feated Mau­gansville 6-4 in Sun­day’s elim­i­na­tion game. Look for story on­line and in Wed­nes­day’s Cecil Whig.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter: @Davetalkss­ports.

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