Three-run third inning is the difference –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
Postseason baseball action came to Peebles on Wednesday night with a 10U battle between West Union 2 and North Adams 1, with both teams looking to advance to the tourney semi-finals. West Union had knocked off Whiteoak in the opening round, while North Adams had moved to the quarters with a win over West Union 1.
The rules in 10U baseball have their own quirks, with no walks and no stolen bases, so if a pitcher throws four balls to a batter, a coach comes to the field to throw three pitches to finish off the at-bat with either a strikeout or a ball put in play. Pitchers are also on a pitch count, limited to 60 per night, and throwing from a mound 42 feet from home plate.
The West Union squad came into the game on a roll, with an eight-game winning streak, but after going down in order in the top of the first, they saw North Adams take an early lead in the bottom half.
With Elijah Gaffin on the mound for the Dragons, North Adams loaded the bases on infield hits by Kaleb Eldridge, Cooper Roush, and Colin Tolle. The first run of the game came home when Cashton Hupp was hit by a pitch to force home Eldridge and Roush raced across when Brayden Hodge reached on an error to make it 2-0 after one inning.
West Union got one of those runs back in the top of the second. After a nice play by Devils’ shortstop Roush to record the frame’s first out, Trey Grooms and Kenyen Copas reached on infield hits and one out later, a base hit to left off the bat of Landon Campbell cut the North Adams lead in half.
With one out in the bottom of the second, southpaw Tegan Knox came in to pitch for the Dragons and he held North Adams scoreless, setting up a decisive top of the third inning for the West Union offense.
With one out, Tanner Rolfe and Knox reached on errors and when Gaffin hit a ground ball on the infield, a throwing error allowed Rolfe to slide home with the tying run. One out later with his Dad on to coach-pitch, Conner Scrivner drove a base hit to left that scored Knox and Gaffin to give the young Dragons a 4-2 advantage. Cooper Roush came on to pitch for the Devils and recorded a strike out of Braden Taylor to end the inning.
North Adams had a golden opportunity to score in their half of the third when Tolle led off the inning with a triple to left-center field, but he was left stranded as the next three hitters were retired.
In the top of the fourth the Dragons capitalized on the same opportunity that their opponent had squandered. Campbell led off with a three-bagger inside the first base line and into right field and came home on an RBI groundout by Hunter Dearth to give West Union a 5-2 lead.
North Adams went down in order in the bottom of the fourth as did West Union in the top of the fifth, bringing the Devils to the plate in the bottom of the fifth with one more chance to keep their season alive.
With the lefty Knox on the mound for the Dragons, Dalton Pence grounded out back to the mound, Roush went down swinging, and Toole hit a roller down the first base line that Knox picked up and took to the bag himself for the final out in a three-run West Union victory.
The Dragons, coached by Mike Knox, Matt Scrivner, and Brad Rolfe, improved to 9-4 on the season and celebrated their win in a unique way, grabbing scissors and starting the process of clipping off Coach Scrivner’s beard as their reward. (This is a corrected version of the story that appeared in the July 2 edition of The People’s Defender.)