SUMMERSVILLE - The No. 7 played a significant role in Tuesday's District 8 championship game between the Elkins and Summersville Blue 9-10-year-old All-Star teams.
Starting pitchers Corey Reed (7) for Elkins and Rylee Nicholas (7) for Summersville Blue not only squared off from the mound, but they also came out swinging offensively for their respective teams.
At one point in the second inning, Nicholas was up to bat against Reed. He hit a triple off Reed, who had four strikeouts on the night, and the two players nearly collided at home when Nicholas came in to score for Summersville Blue.
Elkins starting pitcher Cory Reed (7) tries to secure the out as Rylee Nicholas (7) the starting pitcher for Summersville Blue slides home in the 9-10-year-old All-Star District 8 championship game Tuesday evening in Summersville. Elkins lost the contest 16-6 in the fifth inning. (The Inter-Mountain photo by Heather Goodwin Henline)
Nicholas narrowly beat Reed at home plate, foreshadowing how the evening would ultimately end for Elkins.
The two teams - both donning blue jerseys - appeared to be fairly equally matched, but Lady Luck fell the way of Summersville Blue. The team won 16-6 in the bottom of the fifth inning when the 10-run mercy rule came into play. Elkins, which had won the toss and was named the home team for the game, didn't have true home-field advantage against Summersville Blue, as the District 8 championship series was played in Summersville.
This led some fans from Elkins to question several calls throughout Tuesday evening's game, and at least one supporter was ejected after a verbal altercation with one of the umpires. Local law enforcement officials were called to the scene, but play resumed without further incident.
Despite the wide gap on the scoreboard, tensions remained high and Elkins started to rally in the fifth inning, closing the gap to only a 10-run lead for Summersville Blue. A called strike for the last pitch and the last out of the fifth inning for Elkins was hotly debated, especially since there was a full count. Elkins had Reed in scoring position on third base at the time of the last out. Batting him home would have lowered the deficit to less than 10 runs and forced the sixth inning.
Instead, the record books now tell a different story.
Elkins Manager Junior Lamarne said he was impressed with both teams' pitching and attributed the loss to a lack of offense.
"Their pitcher was really strong. Our pitcher was too. We just didn't hit the ball and they did," he said.
Elkins players of note during the game were: Hunter Taylor (15) with 1 RBI and a double; Devan Lamarne (20) with a double; Reed with a single and a double; and Stevie White (8) with a single. Bobby Henline (2) had the lone run on the board for multiple innings for Elkins after he was walked to first base and stole the next three, including home, to score.
The tournament was a hard-fought journey for Elkins, which struggled in Game 2 of the three-game playoff series on All-Star Lane in Summersville. The team easily downed Craigsville 36-0 Saturday night and then came from behind for a close win against Braxton County 15-14 on Sunday. Inclement weather conditions affected games set for Monday, and with Tuesday's loss to Summersville Blue, Elkins now must play one last game in Summersville. It had been slated for Wednesday but has moved to 6 p.m. Thursday when they will face off against Braxton County, Clay County or Summersville Gold. Two teams advance to states: District 8 champs Summersville Blue and the winner of Thursday's contest, which means Elkins still has a shot to move on.
"It's only one game," Lamarne said. "We've still got one more to go. If we win it, we still can go to states. We're going to come out with everything we have."