Elkton eliminates Talbot, remains in contention
Layton three-hitter lifts reigning champs
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.