Elks squeeze out Babe Ruth title
The Lewisburg Elks Lodge #1990 had suffered through a three-year championship drought before claiming their first Babe Ruth League title since 2013 with a dramatic 7-6 come from behind win over Marshall Medical Center Saturday night at the Jonathan D. Hollingsworth Memorial Babe Ruth Field in Lewisburg.
Bryson Whaley dealt MMC the final blow when he laid down a perfect squeeze bunt that scored Matthew McCormick from third base with no outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Elks starting pitcher and 15-year MVP Preston Shelton was locked in a pitcher’s duel with MMC ace Austin Grubbs as both hurlers did not allow a hit through the first two innings.
In the top of the third inning, MMC struck the first blow as Blake Aldridge was hit by a Shelton pitch to lead off the frame and an infield error put runners on the corners.
14-year old MVP Zack Graves, who went 3-for-4 in the contest roped an RBI double to right field and Grubbs followed with a base on balls to load the bases.
Shelton got a ground ball that turned into a force at home for the first out of the inning before a Connor McVey fielder’s choice RBI made it 2-0.
The Elks came back in the home half of the inning as TJ Stinnett drew a leadoff walk and Shelton followed with a double to put Elks on second and third.
A grounder to first base was not good enough to score a run, but a Walker Whaley double scored both runners to tie the game.
Shelton and Grubbs got back to business on the mound as the game moved to the sixth inning with the same 2-2 score.
Matthew McCormick came on for Shelton in the top of the sixth inning and he did not allow a run.
Grubbs stayed on the mound for MMC in the bottom of the inning and gave up a one-out single to Jake Singleton
Bryson Whaley moved Singleton up with a sacrifice bunt and Singleton raced to third on a passed ball before scoring on single to center field by Kyrklinn Wunderlin, making it a 3-2 contest.
McCormick walked Logan Courtemanche to lead off the top of the seventh and McCormick was replaced on the mound by Walker Whaley.
Consecutive singles by Graves and Grubbs tied the game at 3-3 and McCormick also came home on a wild throw on the play to put MMC in front 4-3.
Grubbs came home on a wild pitch to put the Elks in a 5-3 hole, headed to the bottom of the seventh inning.
Shelton banged a single to leadoff the last inning and Peyton Graves followed with a base hit to right field.
An outfield error off the bat of Walker Whaley scored Shelton before McCormick walked to load the bases full of Elks.
Graves tied the game at 6-6 when he scored on a wild pickoff throw to third that sailed into left field before Bryson Whaley laid down the game winning bunt to cap off the Elks’ comeback.
Grubbs turned in a yeoman effort on the mound for MMC, going the distance.
Grubbbs gave up four earned runs on seven hits, while striking out 10 and walking seven Elks’ batters.
Walker Whaley picked up the win for the Elks, improving his record to 5-0 on the season.
The Elks won 12 consecutive Babe Ruth titles from 2000 to 2011.
The Chapel Hill Farm Center won the Babe Ruth championship last year, Clint’s Air Care won in 2015, and Nichirin won titles in 2012 and 2014.
MMC 002 000 3-5 4 3
Elks 002 001 3-6 7 2
MMC: Zack Graves 3-for-4, Austin Grubbs 1-for-1
2B: Graves 2
RBI: Graves, Austin Grubbs, Connor McVey
BB: Grubbs 3, Colton Barber, Courtemanche, Caleb Grooms, Ashton Grubbs
RS: Blake Aldridge, Barber, Graves, Courtemanche, McVey
CS: Caleb Grooms
LP: Austin Grubbs (6IP, 7H, 6R, 4ER, 10K, 7BB)
Elks: Preston Shelton 2-for-3, Peyton Graves 1-for-3, Walker Whaley 1-for-3, Jake Singleton 1-for-3, Bryson Whaley 1-for-2, Kyrklinn Wunderlin 1-for-3, Andrew Santini 1-for-3
3B: Walker Whaley
RBI: Walker Whaley 2, Bryson Whaley, Wunderlin
BB: Matthew McCormick 3, TJ Stinnett 2, Shelton, Bryson Whaley
RS: Shelton 2, Graves, McCormick, Singleton, Stinnett
SAC: Bryson Whaley
CS: Walker Whaley, Bryson Whaley
ROE: Walker Whaley
WP: Walker Whaley (1IP, 2H, 2R, 1ER, 1K, 1BB), Preston Shelton (5IP, 2H, 2R, 1ER, 5K, 5BB), Matthew McCormick (1IP, 0H, 1R, 1ER, 2K, 2BB)