Elks' late explosion sends MMC packing
Just two weeks into the 2011 Babe Ruth League season, a critical match-up pitted the undefeated first place Elks versus second Marshall Medical Center (MMC), and for four and a half innings the ballgame was tight until a nine-run home at bat by the Elks dealt the medical center crew a crucial blow in a 13-3 run-rule defeat Thursday night.
With the win, the defending league champion Elks kept their undefeated record intact at 5-0, while MMC dropped to 3-2 and into a tie for second place with A Plus Collision Center, who won Thursday's nightcap over Nichirin.
The importance of the win was not lost on Elks skipper Steve Hobbs, who said after the game, "It takes a lot of pressure off, that's for sure. If we keep winning and everybody knocks each other off, it will make it a lot easier on us."
The Elks' stellar table setter Aaron Hobbs led off the contest with a single to left field and advanced two more bases on consecutive passed balls before scoring on a Jacob Graves RBI fielder's choice to make it 1-0.
MMC came back in the top of the second, scoring two runs on just one hit as they took advantage of three free passes issued by Elks' starter Matt Calendar and a passed ball that allowed a run to come across.
Lane Whitsell walked to lead off the inning and Chase Hensley ripped a one out double before Trenton Wiles worked a base on balls to load the bases.
Calendar got out number two on strikeout before issuing a free pass RBI to Payton Hood, tying the game at 1-1.
Hensley came home with the go-ahead run on a passed ball before Calendar escaped further damage with an inning ending whiff.
MMC starting hurler Zack Gordon got out of a two-on, no out jam in the home half of the second and Calendar struck out the side in the top of the third.
In the bottom of the third, Hobbs singled, stole second, and went to third on a bad throw before Graves knocked him home again on an infield single to re-knot the contest.
An infield error and a passed ball scored Graves and Jacob Griffis, who had reached on the earlier MMC miscue, scored on a Chandler Harmon RBI single to open up a 4-2 lead for the Elks.
A Hood RBI double in the top of the fourth scored Wiles, who had walked, cutting the MMC deficit to a single run at 4-3.
In the top of the fifth, the wheels fell off for MMC as the Elks scored nine runs with two outs to put the game away.
The big blows in the frame were a trio of two-run singles by Kurt Taylor, Wilson Limbaugh, and Graves, who finished with four RBI's in the game.
"I never think to come out and run rule anybody," said Hobbs. "We just come out to play hard, but I would love to run rule everybody, that would make it a lot easier on my pitching staff."
Graves came to the hill and had little trouble in the bottom of the inning to earn the save.
Calendar got the win for the Elks as the big Cornersville righty gave up just two hits, struck out nine MMC batters, and walked six.
"Calendar is my hoss," said Hobbs. "When he is on there is nobody in the league that can hit him and when he is off, he is still pretty good."
Hobbs, Graves, Harmon, and Taylor all had two hits in the ballgame for the Elks.