Moose Orioles, Elks Braves prevail by slim margins

By Travis Brown
STAR STAFF
tbrown@starhq.com

   Elizabethton Jr. Babe Ruth offered up a pair of close games Monday night, as the Orioles and the Braves escaped with a pair of one-run decisions.
   In the opener the Moose Orioles took on the P.I.C. Indians in a contest decided by missed opportunities. The Indians let a couple of golden opportunities slip through their fingers en route to a 5-4 defeat at the hands of the Orioles despite turning four double plays.
   The Orioles took the early lead in the bottom of the first when Brandon Barnett received a free pass, swiped second and came around to score on a double by Jared Thomas.
   The Indians drew even in the bottom half of the first frame when Jerry Little took a leadoff walk, and was driven in by a Robert Davenport single. Davenport, who went 3-for-3 in the contest, drove in two runs and score one of his own in the fourth.
   The game would be decided in the top of the third, however, as the Orioles busted out for four runs on only one hit. Assisted by three errors and a hit batsman, the Orioles took the lead and never looked back.
   The Indians made a comeback effort in the bottom of the fourth, though, as two major miscues at third base cost the Indians a chance for a big inning. Three hits were squandered while the Indians did escape with one run heading to the fifth.
   Both teams were silent in the fifth inning but the Indians would make one last effort in the sixth. A leadoff double by Charles Peters and a single by Randy Swearingen eventually led to a pair of runs, but the Indians could not capitalize any further, and heading to the seventh they still trailed by one.
   The Orioles threatened in the seventh, while the Indians went quietly in the bottom half of the inning to seal the deal. Despite the miscues the game was thrilling to the end.
   In the nightcap the Elks Braves went up against the Citizens Bank Cardinals in a game that proved to be a nail-biter, with the Braves nabbing a 1-0 win.
   The pitching duel offered up some fine competition as the Braves and Cards found offense hard to come by.
   Both teams registered double digit strikeout totals as neither club could muster a hit in the clutch.
   The Braves loaded the bases in the top half of the second on an Andrew Kennedy single, a walk and a hit batsman. After loading them up and with only one out, the Braves would register back to back strikeouts to squander the opportunity.
   The Cardinals would make a bid as well in the second inning. A pair of walks left the Cardinals with runners in scoring positions, but a strikeout and a baserunning miscue cost them dearly.
   The top of the sixth would bring some excitement as the Braves saw their best opportunity of the evening. A leadoff single by Derek Slagle started things off, followed up by a sacrifice bunt by Kennedy.
   After a walk to Michael Mann, Nat Treadway delivered a bloop single to right field to bring in the go-ahead in the form of Slagle. The Braves threatened to put on another for insurance but two strikeouts ended the inning with a 1-0 deficit.
   The top half of the seventh presented the last chance for the Cardinals, and the rally was alive and well. After a leadoff strikeout, Matt Rasnake reached base on an error and advanced to second on another miscue.
   Jarron Gouge followed up with a single up the middle and runners were on the corners with only one away.
   Treadway would recover on the mound and come back to strike out the side, but that wasn't all. The final pitch was a curveball in the dirt, and although it was strike three the ball trickled to the backstop. A close play at first resulted as the catcher made a strong throw to first to eliminate the threat.
   Cody Eggers and Coty Mann made strong showings on the mound. The two starters combined for 10 scoreless innings and put on a real gem of a pitching display.