By JUSTIN RAINS
If it only took two outs to end an inning in baseball, Thursday’s District 19-2A matchup between Elkhart and Westwood would have been a close one.
As it is, however, the rules still state that it takes three outs to end an inning, and Elkhart took advantage of that fact.
The Elks scored 11 of their runs with two outs en route to a 13-0, five inning victory over the visiting Panthers here at The Backyard.
Elkhart scored in every inning in the win, plating four runs in the first inning alone.
After Cole Bridges reached with a walk, he moved to second on a wild pitch and then stole third.
Jackson Adair plated Bridges when he reached on an error, before stealing second and moving to third on a wild pitch.
Adair came around to score on a sacrifice fly from Levi Smith to make it 2-0. Smith’s fly ball was the second out, and Adair’s run marked the Elks’ last to come before the two-out mark.
Brian Johnson, Jordan White, Mason Huffines and Cullen Adams then strung together four-straight singles, with White driving in Johnson and Adams driving in White.
The Elks plated five more runs in the second inning, sending all nine batters to the plate in the frame.
Adair had a one-out, opposite field single to reach, and came around to score on a two-out single to center from Smith, who started a string of five-straight singles from himself, Johnson, White, Huffines and Adams.
Smith scored on White’s single, while Johnson and White were both driven in by Huffines. Huffines came around to score on Adams single.
From there, it was all over.
The Elks didn’t register an extra base hit in the win, but they didn’t have to. Eight of the 10 Elkhart batters who came to the plate in the victory reached, with Smith leading the way with three hits.
Huffines finished 2-for-2 with two RBI, while Adams was 2-for-3 with two RBI of his own.
Lost in the Elkhart offensive onslaught was the solid night on the mound from Bridges, who really hit his stride midway through the first inning.
After allowing the first three hitters he faced to reach, Bridges retired the final 13 Panthers without incident.
The senior struck out eight in five innings, allowing only one hit. He managed to face a third of the Westwood lineup only once in the victory.
That lone Panther hit came from Lane Stringfield, who knocked a single to right with two outs in the first inning.
Elkhart (19-5, 6-1) will go for win No. 20 and the outright district lead Saturday, when they welcome in Central Heights to The Backyard. The Blue Devils picked up their first district loss Thursday to Garrison. Games begin with subvarsity action at noon.
Westwood returns to action Tuesday, when they also host Central Heights at 7 p.m.