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By Josiah Schulz
This season for the Elkton Blue Sox so far could be summed up in one word. Tough.
Elkton had so much to look forward to beginning this season, coming off a heartbreaking semi-final exit in the 2019 RCBL Playoffs. Since then, however, wins have come few and far in between for the Blue Sox, including tonight's 6-5 loss against the Broadway Bruins. And although the chances of the Blue Sox reaching the top of the leagues standings by the end of the regular season are beginning to dwindle away, there is one factor that remains consistently strong: the fan base.
The folks of Elkton showed out this evening and stayed out until the very last pitch; despite the numerous defensive errors and sleepy hitting from their beloved Blue Sox. There were 5 total innings this game where neither team scored a run, and through it all, the faithful people of Elkton remained in the stands, cheering on and shouting words of encouragement for whoever was next up to bat for their team.
As a reward for the tremendous loyalty displayed by their fans, the Blue Sox would gift their supporters through a riveting bottom of the 9th inning. The Sox would rally together and produce 3 runs, coming back from a 6-2 deficit, and as a result leaving the Broadway Bruins in utter disbelief. The Bruins would eventually awaken, catching a pop fly from right outfielder Lee Carneal to conclude tonight's matchup. If that ball had been dropped, however, it would have allowed two Blue Sox to glide in for two runs, ultimately resulting in a score of 7-6 in Elkton’s favor.
This situation could have possibly been avoided entirely if it wasn’t for a tough first inning where Elkton would figuratively ‘shoot themselves in the foot’. Top of the first, bases loaded with Bruins and two outs already from the defending Blue Sox. Then, anticlimactically, the next three at-bats all resulted in walks, scoring 3 Bruins without even a single hit. A pitching substitution would be finally made, and a line drive to 1st base from lead-off hitter Bryce Strawderman would end up as out number three. Yes, I did say lead-off hitter. The entire batting rotation for the Bruins would see at least one at-bat in the top of the 1st alone, ending off the inning with a 4-0 lead against the Blue Sox.
On the total opposite side of the spectrum, reigning Pitcher of the Year John Judy would boast 10 strikeouts in only 5 innings played and allowing only two runs; both of which coming in the bottom of the 4th inning.
“I felt really good early. Later on my arm kinda died, but for the most part I felt I played my role to the best of my ability.” Said Judy. “Bailey (Hall) called a great game behind the plate and I had a great defense behind me. I just felt like I could throw just about anything in the zone and they wouldn’t hit it.”
After it all, Blue Sox coach Dave Loker would walk off the field tonight with a smile still on his face and a sense of optimism radiating from his body.
“We really didn’t go into this game any different with Broadway than with anybody else. The record doesn’t indicate everything! I feel like we can beat anybody on a good night, and similarly we can be beat by anybody any given night. We just didn’t hit the ball when we needed to tonight and we gave up a few free runs early that changed the outcome of the game. But you know, I like how we played tonight… after the first inning.” Coach Loker said, accompanied with a hearty laugh. “They hung in there and played hard. Mack Rexroade and Jose (Rocha) I felt both played really well. So you know, we did some good things tonight. At this point though, we are just looking ahead towards the playoffs. We’re not banking a whole lot on wins or losses. Obviously we want to win, but our goal is to be ready to play and to compete when it comes time for the playoffs. That’s what this team is looking forward to.” Said coach Loker with a bright smile illuminating his face.
With this victory, Broadway remains at the tip top of the leagues standings, improving to a 8-3 record and look forward to playing the Bridgewater Reds for their first bout of the season tomorrow night @ JMU’s Eagle Field at 7:30 p.m.
With this loss, however, Elkton’s record will take a hit, dropping to 3-8: only one game above the Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks for the worst record in the league. The Blue Sox will look to snap their current two game losing streak against the Montezuma Braves tomorrow night @ their home in Stonewall Memorial Park at 7:30 p.m.
Final Score: Broadway 6 - Elkton 5
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