By MICHAEL S. ADAMS

H-P Sports Writer



ELKHART — Grapeland relief pitcher Rustin Boyd came up clutch for the Sandies Friday night as Grapeland defeated Elkhart 5-4 at the Elkhart baseball field.

Starting pitcher Tony Taylor was one out from a complete game when it appeared the sophomore hurler hyper-extended his elbow after walking Elkhart’s Austin Evans to put runners at first and second base with the Sandies ahead 5-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Boyd came in for relief duty and had Micah Blackman hit into a fielder’s choice to load the bases. Boyd then walked Tyler Farrow to score Dustin Wilson from third.

On the next Elkhart at bat, catcher Ricky Brooks reached first on Grapeland’s second error of the inning and third of the game to score Evans from third base.

With the tying run on third and the winning run on second, Boyd caught Clay Yonts looking on strike three to seal the game for the Sandies.

“He is as clutch as I have ever seen,” first-year Grapeland head coach Brandon Goswick said. “He does not even like to pitch, but I told him he is my relief guy and tonight he did exactly what I wanted him to do.”

With the win, Grapeland takes control of District 21-2A with a 5-1 district record. Elkhart falls one-half game behind the Sandies also with a 5-1 district record.



“We are not even close to being out of it,” Elkhart head coach John Adair said. “We still are not through the first half of district play. If we take care of business we can still win this thing.”



Taylor pitched an almost flawless game, going 6 2/3 innings throwing 108 pitches while allowing just three hits, two earned runs, walking five batters and striking out eight.

The sophomore gave up just two hits in the first five innings of the game, while walking three batters.



“(Tony) Taylor pitched a really solid game,” Adair said. “This was a really good ball game. I thought both teams would hit the ball really well, but it turned into a pitching duel.”



A pitching duel it was.

Elkhart hurler Clay Yonts pitched 5 2/3 innings while giving up two earned runs and four hits, striking out six batters and walking three.

Yonts, who was a little wild all night, hit four batters in the first four innings with two turning into potential runs.

The Elks got onto the scoreboard first in the bottom of the second inning when Clay Yonts stole home plate after Chris Yonts was being rundown by Taylor and first baseman Jim Ed Hughes.

Grapeland answered in the top of the third when Woodard was driven in on a double to right field.

Taylor, who was hit by a pitch in the previous at bat, scored when Hughes was hit by Yonts with the bases loaded.

Taylor put the clamps on the Elkhart bats for the next three innings while the Sandie offense added additional run support.

Center fielder Justin Rodriguez was hit by Clay Yonts in the top of the fourth inning and scored on a throwing error by Clay Yonts to third trying to catch Rodriguez stealing.



Grapeland went ahead 5-1 after catcher Ethan Owens hit a home run over the left field fence to lead off the top of the fifth inning.



“The got the hits they needed to and we didn’t,” Adair said. “They made the most of their opportunities to score.”

Elkhart started taking advantage of a tired Taylor in the bottom of the sixth inning.



Farrow led off the inning with a triple to center field and scored on a grounder by Clay Yonts with one out, which proved to be all Taylor would give up as he caught Justin McKinney looking on strike three to end the inning.



“When he is in the zone he is hard to hit,” Goswick said. “He got into a rhythm tonight. Good pitchers protect the lead and that is exactly what he did.”



Grapeland returns to the diamond Friday at home against Frankston while The Elks will play Grand Saline at home at 3 p.m. today before closing out the first half of district play Tuesday at Frankston.



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Michael S. Adams may be contacted vie e-mail at sports2@palestineherald.com

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