By SCOTT TYLER

H-P Sports Editor



Both head baseball coaches for Elkhart and Grapeland know how important Friday’s game is.

But it is not because of the rivalry between the two schools, but because of the half game that separates the two teams in the district standings.

“Anytime Elkhart and Grapeland get together it is a big game, but it is even bigger because of the district standings,” Elkhart head coach John Adair said.

Elkhart leads the District 21-2A standings with a 4-0 record while Grapeland is a half game back with a 4-1 mark.

“We know it is Elkhart, so I want our kids to use that emotion and adrenaline to play the game like they are supposed to play it,” Grapeland head coach Brandon Goswick said.

Grapeland was 4-0 in district but lost 3-2 to Malakoff Tuesday night. It was Malakoff’s first district win and Goswick said the loss is an eye opener for his Sandies.

“I think we realized just because a team is 0-3, you cannot walk onto the baseball field and win,” Goswick said. “I hope they take that into practice the next two days and into Friday’s game.”

Elkhart had a bye Tuesday which Adair said has helped his team.

“In the past I may have not liked having a bye before a game like this, but this year I do like it,” the Elkhart head coach said. “We have had a tough schedule and have been very busy so this gave us a chance to give them a day off and relax a little bit.”

Adair will give the ball to Clay Yonts Friday night. Yonts, a senior, is 6-0 on the season.

“Clay has real good command of his pitches and works his spots,” Adair said. “He has stepped up as a leader of this team.”

Adair said for Yonts and Elkhart to have success, the Elks are going to have to field the ball because Yonts is not a strikeout pitcher.

“Last year we had a couple of strikeout pitchers but that is not the case this year,” Adair said. “It has made us a stronger defensive team because we know if we make the routine play, we are going to be successful.”

Grapeland will counter with sophomore hurler Tony Taylor.

“Tony needs to throw a lot of strikes and let his defense play behind him,” Goswick said. “He needs to keep the ball down and he gets in trouble when he starts to try and strike batters out.

“But I have a lot of confidence in him.”

Grapeland has been very potent with the bats this season, including scoring 13 runs earlier in the season against Frankston.

“One through nine, they are very strong hitters,” Adair said. “The are a well-rounded ball club.”

Goswick had the same thoughts about Elkhart.

“Coach Adair always has his players ready to play and they are solid throughout the lineup,” the Grapeland head coach said. “They come to the ballpark expecting to win and they have a prestige about them.”

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Scott Tyler may be contacted via e-mail at styler@palestineherald.com

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