Elk­ton elim­i­nates Tal­bot, re­mains in con­tention

Lay­ton three-hit­ter lifts reign­ing champs

Record Observer - - Sports - By DAVID INSLEY dins­ley@star­dem.com

Elk­ton 5 — Tal­bot 2

SAL­IS­BURY — Elk­ton lost to Tal­bot early in last year’s state se­nior league all-star base­ball tour­na­ment, then won five straight — in­clud­ing a win over Tal­bot — to take the state ti­tle.

Mon­day at Jaycee Park, Elk­ton stayed alive in the loss bracket at the ex­pense of Tal­bot, which put it there again this year. Zack Lay­ton threw a three-hit com­plete game, hit­ting his pitch limit of 95 on the game’s last bat­ter, as Elk­ton elim­i­nated Tal­bot with a 5-2 vic­tory.

Tal­bot fin­ished the post­sea­son 4-2.

Due to a dis­crep­ancy in sched­ul­ing, Elk­ton’s run through the District 5 ti­tle got changed dras­ti­cally, man­ager Bill Lor­man said.

“It was sup­posed to be a fiveteam, dou­ble-elim­i­na­tion [bracket],” Lor­man said. “We thought the state tour­na­ment be­gan on the 16th [of July], but found out last week it was ac­tu­ally start­ing Saturday [July 9] . ... So, the dou­ble-elim­i­na­tion bracket we had be­came sin­gle-elim­i­na­tion” be­fore it started on Wed­nes­day.

Win­ning two games, Elk­ton (41) qual­i­fied for the state tour­na­ment Fri­day night, then lost 11-1 to Tal­bot in Saturday af­ter­noon’s state opener.

Elk­ton sur­vived Sunday by knock­ing out District 1 champ Mau­gansville, 6-4. Tal­bot, mean­while lost 10-8 to District 8 champ Berlin in a gru­el­ing, three-hour marathon.

Tal­bot took a 1-0 lead yes­ter­day on Jimmy Hal­ter­man’s solo homer to left with one out in the top of the first.

A de­layed dou­ble-steal scored Bran­don Booze in the top of the third, giv­ing the District 6 champs a 2-0 lead.

Over the first two in­nings, Tal­bot start­ing pitcher Ma­son Led­ford yielded only a sin­gle to Colin Harkey, who was erased on an in­ning-end­ing dou­ble play.

Be­cause of Lit­tle League’s pitch­ing lim­its, coaches have to

bal­ance the dual de­mands of win­ning to­day, while shep­herd­ing enough arms to com­pete in the next game.

“In the loss bracket, it’s a strug­gle,” Tal­bot man­ager Al­bert Pritch­ett said. “You come into these tour­na­ments want­ing to win the whole thing, but you also have to win to­day. And it’s a lot to jug­gle.

“Even when you have kids that you throw for just 30 pitches, arms get tired,” Pritch­ett said. “We’ve got some kids with tired arms, and it’s hard to keep your pitch­ing to­gether when you have to win ev­ery day for four days.”

Elk­ton rode Lay­ton as long as pos­si­ble, and it was just enough.

Af­ter Hal­ter­man’s blast, Lay­ton re­tired six in a row be­fore walk­ing Booze with one out in the top of the third. A passed ball moved Booze to sec­ond, and Luke Cum­mings fol­lowed with a sin­gle to put men at the cor­ners.

Cum­mings then in­ten­tion­ally strayed too far off first to start a rundown; Lay­ton threw to first, and Cum­mings was even­tu­ally tagged out on a 1-3-4-3 play by first base­man An­drew Lor­man. But Booze had enough time to score on the play.

Hal­ter­man made first on an er­ror a mo­ment later, but tried for sec­ond on the over­throw, and was out when Lor­man fired to Kyle Spencer to get him for the fi­nal out.

Though Tal­bot had men at the cor­ners with one down in the fourth, and Lay­ton hit two bat­ters in the sixth, noth­ing came of ei­ther rally. Tal­bot fin­ished 2 for 7 with men on base, 3 for 23 (.130) over­all. “We didn’t hit, we just didn’t hit,” Pritch­ett said. “We’ve had some games where we killed the ball, and to­day, their pitcher, to his credit, did a good job of keep­ing us from get­ting that big hit.”

Elk­ton ral­lied in the bot­tom of the fourth against two Tal­bot re­liev­ers.

Harkey led off with a base hit. Ethan Wolfe fol­lowed with an­other. Jeremy Mullins then hit a liner to Tal­bot short­stop Ryan Farr, who caught it and fired to first for a dou­ble play.

Elk­ton’s An­drew Simp­son walked. Zach Wor­ton sin­gled off the cen­ter-field fence to score Harkey to make it 2-1. An­drew Goudeaux walked, and Bruce Lucey sin­gled, scor­ing Simp­son and Wor­ton’s pinch run­ner, Je­lani Brown, for a 3-2 Elk­ton lead.

Elk­ton ex­tended its lead to 4-2 in the fifth when Austin Goudeaux sin­gled to score his twin brother. Mullins sin­gled to score Harkey with an un­earned run in the bot­tom of the fifth.

“It’s hard to come into a state tour­na­ment fresh off districts like we did,” Bill Lor­man said. “And we were down a cou­ple of arms, be­cause even though you start fresh at the new level of play­offs, I had guys who had pitched just the night be­fore, and we re­ally couldn’t use them.

“But we’ve had a dif­fer­ent ap­proach so far in the loss bracket,” Lor­man said. ‘Two times, we’ve come up against teams that were try­ing to use arms a lit­tle, but save guys for to­mor­row. We used one guy as long as we could, and we’re still alive.”

Lay­ton was at 94 pitches when he faced the game’s last bat­ter, whom he was al­lowed to face, and struck out look­ing.

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