Nichirin rallies past Elks

Friday, June 8, 2012
Nichirin third baseman Stuart Warner throws out the Elks' Derrick McKnight at first base in the bottom of the first inning. Photos by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

Nichirin retained sole possession of first place in the Marshall County Babe Ruth standings by defeating the Elks 7-4 on Thursday night at Jonathan D. Hollingsworth Field to run their record to 5-0 on the season.

The Elks (3-2) held a 3-1 lead at the end of the first inning, but Nichirin overcame the early adversity and pushed across six runs over the next four frames to seize a 7-3 advantage before claiming the three-run victory.

Nichirin finished with seven hits and four walks overall, but were also aided by five Elk errors, which contributed to three of their seven runs. Stuart Warner led Nichirin's offensive attack by going 2-for-3 with a double, 1 RBI, and a run scored, while Gunner Sutherland added a pair of singles. Starting pitcher David Looney (2 RBI), Jay Howard (1 RBI), and Hunter Talley each had one hit for Nichirin as well.

Elks' shortstop Wilson Limbaugh tries to throw out Nichirin's Gunner Sutherland at first base after fielding a groundball in the top of the second inning.

After getting off to a rocky start, Looney settled down and went the distance on the mound to earn his second victory of the year, allowing four runs in seven innings of work on six hits and three walks while piling up 10 strikeouts.

"We were able to stop the bleeding after the first inning and played well the rest of the way. Their confidence has grown by the day and they realize that they're one of the teams to beat in the league," said Nichirin coach Bradley Maddox. "We don't want to overconfident, but we've been playing well early in the season and have been firing on all cylinders."

Wilson Limbaugh notched two hits and scored twice to pace the Elks at the plate , while Ben Taylor (1 RBI), Chandler Harmon (2 RBI), starting pitcher Curt Taylor, and Iendi Biggers each had one hit.

Curt Taylor suffered the loss on the mound after yielding seven runs over six innings. Will Johnson came on in relief of Taylor and pitched one perfect inning after tossing a no-hitter against Irving Materials Incorporated last Friday.

Nichirin wasted no time getting on the board and tallied a run in the top of the first inning to grab a 1-0 lead. After laying down a bunt, Howard was able to completely round the bases on an Elk throwing error when the ball rolled down the side of the right field fence.

The Elks got their bats going in the bottom half of the first and plated three runs in the frame to pull ahead 3-1. Following consecutive singles by Limbaugh and Ben Taylor, both runners moved up 90 feet on an errant pickoff throw. Harmon then drove in Limbaugh and Taylor with a two-run single before scoring on a Nichirin error.

In the top of the second, Nichirin trimmed the deficit to 3-2 when Warner raced home on a Elk error after leading off the frame with a double and advancing to third on a infield single by Sutherland.

Nichirin then tied the game at 3-3 by scoring a run in the top of third thanks to a Talley leadoff single, two Elk errors, and a double steal.

The Elks left a runner in scoring position in each of the next two innings before Nichirin crossed home plate four times in the fifth on the strength of walks from Madison Peete and Tata Davis, a Looney two-run single, and a pair of RBI singles by Howard and Warner to take a 7-3 lead.

The Elks trimmed the deficit to 7-4 on a RBI groundout by Ben Taylor, but Looney held then scoreless over the final two frames to clinch Nichirin's victory.