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Sunday is no fun-day at the park

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Islanders' Legion season comes to a close

By Mike Forster

 

It's a bit early in the year for football.

But, it's not too early for football-like scores.

Such was the case this past Sunday afternoon, when Big Island Post 217 fell to Lynchburg's Post 16 to the tune of 21-16.

21-16?  That's a robust score when you're building it with touchdowns and the like.  But, in baseball? Oy!

At one point, Big Island led by a touchdown and a field goal, 15-5.  But the Burgers racked up an astounding 16 runs in their last two innings to more than overcome that deficit.

Making matters worse, the defeat ended the Islander's Legion season as it knocked the team out of post-season.

"We just couldn't stop Lynchburg," rued Big Island Manager Kelley Russell.

It sure looked that way at the start of the game.  Lynchburg set the tone by scoring four runs in the first inning.

Nelson Carroll came on in relief, helping subdue the flames and yielding but a single run over two innings.

Meanwhile, the Big Island bats got busy.  Quentin Palmer drove in Big Island's first run with a single in the second.

Hunter Johnson's triple to right field brought home another run in the fourth.

With Keyton Elliott assuming mound duties in masterful fashion, the Islanders really went to town.  They scored five runs in the fifth.  Cameron Byrd and Tristan DeWitt each rapped RBI singles.  Then Elliott mauled a double off the left field wall  to bring home two and to nab the lead.  Johnson drove home the fifth run that inning.

The feat was replicated in the sixth, when Duff, DeWitt and Elliott all drove home runs before Johnson had a two-RBI single to right.

The 12-5 lead seemed insurmountable, particularly since Lynchburg seemed depleted, with only two players on the bench.

But, credit the Burgers.  They showed grit, determination and talent.

Elliott pitched into the seventh, but Russell pulled him when he started to tire.

A steady parade of Big Island relievers, however, met their match at the hands of the Post 16 batsmen.

Four runs in the seventh inning was not surprising.  A dozen runs in the eighth was unthinkable.  Yet, the Burgers kept hitting legitimate shots to places Big Islander defenders were not.

The bottom of the Lynchburg order was especially effective this day.

"I've never been involved with something like that," said Russell, as shell-shocked as his charges.

 

Mitigating circumstances

Yet, Russell was keeping things together with bubblegum and baling wire.

He made a total of 24 defensive changes over the course of the game.  With superb outfielder Daniel Scott in a sling and standout infielder Cal Hodgert on crutches, the team was certainly hurting.  Sean Burch was hurt early in this game, as well. The vacation bug also was a factor.

"When you lose some of your main cogs, you have to piece things together and deal with the hand you're dealt," said Russell.

Meanwhile, an obviously exhausted Lynchburg team went back into the fray less than an hour after this marathon.  A fresh gang from Danville won the District title (and trip to the State tourney) with a 9-3 win in the nightcap.

In large part, this tourney was won during the regular season.  With the top seeding, Danville only needed two games to earn the crown.

Had third-seeded Big Island taken Lynchburg, it would have had to beat Danville twice (Sunday night and Monday), meaning it'd have had five games over three days.