Elks top MMC, claim 12th straight title
Ah, those undefeated, and 11-time reigning Babe Ruth League champion Elks were hanging on a thin limb Tuesday night in the last stand showdown of this season, needing a win over longtime rival Marshall Medical Center to clinch the regular season crown, but somehow like all those other times, they did, again via an exhilarating 5-2 extra inning victory.
League veteran Bubba Houghton's eighth inning, one-out game-winning double put the Elks over the top and 13-year old Derrick McKnight followed two batters later, smashing a bases- loaded, two-run insurance single into center field.
Jacob Graves closed the door on MMC in the home half of the eighth, getting all three outs on strikeouts to seal the deal and get the win.
The Elks' Matt Calendar turned in another great performance on the hill, going seven superb innings of one- hit ball, striking out a dozen, and walking four hospital hitters.
Calendar surrendered two unearned runs in the fourth inning that put MMC in the lead 2-1, but the lanky righty would not surrender anything the rest of his stint.
The two teams were locked in an old fashioned pitching duel over the first three innings as Calendar was working on a no-hitter and MMC ace Hunter Thomas was wheeling, dealing, and side-arming his way with a one-hitter.
The Elks broke through in the top of the fourth, starting with a one-out single by Jacob Griffis.
Griffis took second on a fielder's choice before shocking the entire crowd at the Jonathan D. Hollingsworth Babe Ruth Field when he lumbered into third with a stolen base.
The big first baseman's gamble paid off when he trotted home on a passed ball strikeout that sent Chandler Harmon to first.
In the bottom of the inning, the Elks returned the favor when they let in two unearned runs, beginning with Blake Darnell's bunt that was picked up by Calendar, who threw the ball into the right field corner, sending the speedy Darnell all the way to third base.
Darnell scampered home on a passed ball to tie the game and later in the frame; Ethan Poteete drilled a single to right that scored Jay Murphy with the go-ahead run at 2-1.
There was nary a base runner over the next two innings as the scored remained 2-1 MMC, going to the top of the seventh.
Harmon reached on an infield error to start the inning before Kurt Taylor's bazooka double in the gap in right scored Harmon to re-knot the contest.
Calendar set down MMC 1-2-3 in the bottom of the stanza to complete his seven-inning stint and in the top of the eighth, Calendar started the game winning rally with a one-out single.
Griffis followed with another base hit before Houghton line-drived a double to right that sent Calender across home plate with the go-ahead run.
Harmon walked before Trevor Wellisley, who came to the mound for MMC in the sixth, struck out the next Elks' batter.
Up stepped the youngster McKnight, who calmly drilled a two-run single up the middle that blew out the party candle for MMC.
Graves came to the hill in the bottom of the eighth and struck out the first batter.
Connor Bush reached on an infield error before Graves got the next MMC hitter swinging at a low strike three.
Thomas kept the game alive with a single to center, but Graves reared back to whiff the next batter to end the game and give the Elks the dandy dozen.