A-Plus Collision Center holds off Elks, owns first place

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
A-Plus Collision Center third baseman Raymond Cooksey tags out the Elks' Ben Taylor on a stolen base attempt in the top of the third inning. Tribune photos by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

A-Plus Collision Center (8-1) regained sole possession of first place in the Marshall County Babe Ruth League standings by defeating the Elks 8-5 on Thursday night at Jonathan D. Hollingsworth Memorial Park.

With the two teams having split their first two games of the season, APCC took control of Thursday's contest early and built a 6-1 lead through the first two innings of play before holding off a late rally by the Elks (7-2) to claim the three-run victory.

Aided by their fast start, A-Plus Collision Center finished with 10 hits and three walks against Elk starting pitcher Austin Wood, who went the distance on the mound and suffered the loss.

Elks second baseman Nathan Thomason fields a groundball before throwing out A-Plus Collision Center's Tristan Underwood at first base in the bottom of the first inning.

Strong hitting

Leadoff hitter Brett McGehee helped set the table for APCC's offense by going 3-for-4 with three runs scored to raise his batting average to .452 overall. Dominic West also added two hits, a RBI, and three runs scored, while starting pitcher Brayden Gentry (3 RBI), Logan Bailey (2 RBI), Tristan Underwood (1 RBI), Raymond Cooksey, and Colby Bluthardt each had one hit.

The Elks drew 11 walks against two A-Plus Collision Center hurlers, but mustered only five hits overall and left 16 runners on base overall, including 10 in scoring position. Iendi Biggers, Ben Taylor, Will Johnson, Mitchell Ford, and Gage Anderson notched one hit apiece for the Elks.

Gentry picked up the win on the mound for APCC and allowed three runs, two earned, in five and a third innings of work on four hits and six walks to go along with five strikeouts. McGehee then came on in relief of Gentry and yielded two unearned runs over an inning and two-thirds on one hit and five walks.

Early lead

The Elks left the bases loaded in the top of the first inning before A-Plus Collision Center struck for three runs in the bottom half of the frame to grab a 3-0 lead. After McGehee and West both singled, Bailey drew a walk to load the bases with no outs. Gentry then belted a two-run ground rule double over the right centerfield fence before Underwood plated Bailey with a RBI groundout.

In the top of the second, the Elks trimmed the deficit to 3-1 when Ford scored on a RBI groundout by Wood after reaching first base on an error and advancing to third on a Anderson single and a fielder's choice by Will Vanhooser.

APCC mounted an immediate response and pushed across three runs in the bottom of the second on the strength of a single by McGehee, a West walk, a two-run triple by Bailey, and an error to open up a 6-1 advantage.

Staying in front

The Elks left a runner in scoring position in each of the next three innings before plating two runs in the top of the sixth with the help of two walks, two wild pitches, and a RBI single by Johnson to narrow the gap to 6-3.

A-Plus Collision Center once again quickly counterpunched and tallied two runs in the bottom of the sixth thanks to an error, a West RBI triple, and a RBI groundout by Gentry to stretch their lead to 8-3.

Things got dicey for APCC in the top of the seventh, as the Elks scored two runs in the frame behind four walks and an error to whittle the deficit to 8-5 and still had the bases loaded with two outs. McGehee, however, settled down and struck out Nathan Thomason to end the game.