CLAYTON — If not for a disastrous first inning Monday afternoon Northmont might have been able to defeat Centerville in a crucial division game. Instead, the Elks walked away with a narrow 5-4 victory.
The Elks jumped all over Thunderbolts’ starting pitcher Jake Monnin to take a 3-0 lead. Leadoff hitter Quincy Hamilton singled to left field to get the Elks offense going. Monnin struck out August Eggert but Brian Schutter reached first on an infield hit with Hamilton advancing to third. Schutter stole second and Jake Whisman drew a walk to load the bases. Bobby Hughes got hit by a pitch to drive-in Hamilton and Joey Holiga belted a single to right field to score Schutter and Whisman with Hughes thrown out trying to reach third.
Holiga stole second and the throw to second sailed into the outfield allowing Holiga to reach third base. Dalton Miller drew a walk and at that point Monnin was lifted with Northmont Coach Chuck Harlow bringing Tyler Defibaugh to the mound. Defibaugh walked Seth Pritchett to load the bases but ended the inning by getting Grant Lugo out on a pop fly to first.
Northmont answered with two runs in the bottom of the first. With two outs Brandt Cronebach singled up the middle and Tyler Liddy followed with another single up the middle. A passed ball allowed Cronebach to advance to third and Garrett Lee, pinch running for Liddy, to reach second. Cameron Reaman then drew a walk to load the bases. Left handed hitting Austin Kossoudji belted a single to right field to score Cronebach and Lee. Centerville pitcher Jake Whisman ended the rally by getting Landon Hill to ground out to short.
Centerville increased its lead to 4-2 in the top of the second. Hamilton (4 for 4, two runs) led off the inning by cracking a double to the fence in left center field. Schutter singled to center to score Hamilton to boost the Elks lead to two runs.
The Elks got another run in the top of the fifth. Whisman led off with a single with Luke Kruzel coming in to pinch run. Hughes grounded out to third with Kruzel advancing to second. Holiga got hit by a pitch and Miller drew a walk to load the bases. Pritchett followed with a bloop single over third base to score Kruzel. The inning ended with Lugo hitting a line drive to third baseman Landon Hill. Hill snared the line drive and stepped on third to get Kruzel out who had taken a lead and broke for home when Lugo made contact.
Northmont got a run back in the bottom of the fifth. Tanner Lee led off with a single to right and advanced to second on a passed ball. Two outs later Liddy singled to left to score Lee.
Hill prevented Centerville from scoring another run in the top of the sixth. With Hill pitching in relief Hamilton singled, stole second and after two walks the Elks had the bases loaded. Hamilton broke for home on a passed ball and Hill came in to cover the plate. Liddy flipped the ball to Hill who put the tag on Hamilton during a violent collision. The inning ended when Hill got Hughes to hit a pop fly to second.
The Thunderbolts final run came in the bottom of the sixth. Kossoudji led off with a single up the middle and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Hill. Kossoudji advanced to third on a passed ball and Will Ludington drew a walk. Cole Stephens hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Kossoudji. Lee singled to right advancing Ludington to second and Anthony Ragan singled to left, but Ludington got thrown out at the plate trying to score on the base hit.
With the victory Centerville improved to 5-2 in Central Division play and 12-8 overall while Northmont fell to 1-6 and 9-8 overall.
“We put ourselves in situations tonight where we were in the hole a lot and then dug our way out a bunch,” Harlow said. “The kids fought like hell. We just got ourselves down too early. It was a great baseball game. It was frustrating for the kids and frustrating for the coaches. I thought Austin Kossoudji played his butt off and Defibaugh came in and pitched super well for us and Landon Hill came in and did a great job. You gotta tip your hat to Centerville. They just played a little bit better than us.”
Leading the offense was Kossoudji who went 2 for 3 with two RBI and one run. Tanner Lee went 2 for 4 with a run. Cronebach went 2 for 4 with a run. Tyler Liddy went 2 for 4 with one RBI. Stephens went 1 for 2 with one RBI. Anthony Ragan went 1 for 4 and Cameron Reaman went 1 for 3 with a walk.
The Elks were led by Hamilton who went 4 for 4 with two runs. Holiga went 3 for 3 with two RBI. Brian Schutter 2 for 4 with one RBI and a run. Whisman went 1 for 1 with two walks and scored twice. Miller, Pritchett and Lugo went 1 for 3 with Pritchett getting one RBI.
Whisman pitched 5 innings, gave up eight hits, two runs, struck out three and walked one. Schutter pitched 2 innings, scattered three hits, gave up two runs and walked one.
Weather permitting the two teams will play again today at Centerville at 5 p.m.
CEN 310 010 0 – 5 13 0
NMT 200 011 0 – 4 11 1
Ron Nunnari can be reached at 684-9124, via email Rnunnari@civitasmedia.com or on Twitter @Englewood_Ind