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By Tyler Carney
In Elkton's first game back in the league, they couldn't seem to get anything quite right, falling 10-4. Taran Baker got the start for the Blue Sox, surrendering a leadoff single to eventual player of the game, Michael Robertson. Baker then faced seven more batters in the top of the first, walking two and hitting two, both of which resulted in RBIs. He managed to get out of the first, but the Braves were already gaining momentum. Baker's day ended after 4 innings of work.
For the Braves, Will Craig started and retired ten straight Blue Sox batters before Evan Sutton drew a walk for Elkton. Craig then gave up his first hit, a single by Powell, right after that. Craig went on to strike out the next three batters, ending his day after 6.1 innings of work without allowing any runs.
When asked about his key to victory, Coach Rush said, "Will always pitches well for us. He plays club ball, which some people downplay, but he shut them down. That's what we expect from him."
Montezuma took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, and it stayed that way until the 4th, where the Braves started scoring one run per inning until the 8th, when they broke it open and reached 10 runs.
Elkton used 5 pitchers in an attempt to slow down the Braves, but to little avail. Garrett Williams replaced Baker in the 5th and pitched 3 innings before walking a few batters in a row. Then Brandon Mullins came in. Hopefully for Mullins, this was just a case of opening day nerves, as he went on to walk or hit 6 batters in a row, facing everyone he saw without managing to throw more than 2 strikes. Jacob Hensley came in for damage control and performed well in his situation. He entered the game with the bases loaded and nearly got out of the jam, but at that point, the game was firmly in the Braves' hands. Wyatt Estep replaced Hensley in the 9th. Estep is a player to look out for and someone Manager Sutton is excited about.
"We're going to get stronger. We have guys who haven't played in a few weeks versus guys who just finished a full season tonight, and the plate appearances will get better," said Sutton. "Once the game got stretched, I just wanted to see how my pitchers were feeling, and I still have some guys who aren't here yet, so I'm not concerned about the bullpen."
Later in the game, both coaches made some substitutions, and the Blue Sox managed to put some runs together. However, leadoff and designated hitter Andi Merica did not slide during a steal attempt, thinking he would beat the throw, and was thrown out, taking Elkton's wind out of their sails.
Elkton even loaded the bases in the 9th, giving them a chance to bring the deficit within two runs, but a groundout and a pop fly off hard-throwing closer Alex Belako sealed the opening day victory for Montezuma.
Michael Robertson won the player of the game award with 3 hits, 1 RBI, reaching base in 5 out of 6 at-bats, including one where he reached 3rd on an E8 and one on a walk. Robertson has the potential to establish himself as one of the league's best hitters this season, and Rush was extremely confident in him, saying he "expected this" from him.
For Elkton, they'll need to perform better all-around in their next game against the Bucks this Wednesday. As for Montezuma they’ll look to keep the ball rolling in their home opener Wednesday vs the Shockers in their home opener.
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