Blue Springs Elks salvage win in Wood Bat Invitational pool play finale

By Michael Smith
Special to The Examiner

The Blue Springs Elks had a hard time getting hits against Overland (Mo.) Post 338 Thoman Boothe pitcher Drew Thomas in their final pool play game in the American Legion Wood Bat Invitational Friday. 

It wasn’t that Thomas was overpowering with his pitches, but the velocity of his throws was a good 15-20 mph slower than the average American Legion pitcher. 

The Elks couldn’t score against him until Thomas got gassed in the bottom of the fifth inning. Three errors, four walks and wild pitch led to a five-run fifth for Blue Springs as the Elks ended up taking a 9-1 mercy-rule victory in six innings, finishing pool play with a 1-3 record. 

“It felt pretty good to get a win, but it was pretty ugly,” Elks manager Jeff Barnett said after his team improved to 10-17 overall. “I think we played better in the games we lost. We maybe had three legit hits.” 

The Elks had a hard time waiting on slower pitches, and they often swung too early. That led to Thomas allowing just one hit through the first four innings, while stranding six runners. Thoman Boothe scored its only run in the top of the fifth when Thomas hit an RBI single to left field on a ground ball. 

“Our hitters were getting way too anxious and we couldn’t get them to stay back,” Barnett said. 

Post 338 almost had the bases loaded after an infield hit from Adam Deelo, but Parker Brinkley was thrown out at home trying to score after making it to third. 

After Thomas kept the Elks off balance for the first four innings, he started to tire after his team committed two errors and a fielder’s choice at second to start the frame. Easton Lamb and Colton Hughes then drew bases-loaded walks, sandwiched around a Brady Lowe pop out, putting the Elks ahead 2-1. 

“It’s hard because we see fast pitchers all the time,” Hughes said. “We have to adjust and wait on that ball for so long. You want to wait on it and drive it the opposite way.” 

Thomas was replaced by Tyler Davies, and he surrendered a bases-loaded walk to Dempsey Graves. Lamb scored on a wild pitch and Hughes came home after catcher Ray Dickerson III overthrew Davies on a toss back to the mound after a pitch. 

Blue Springs took a 5-1 lead after five and scored four runs to end it in the bottom of the sixth. Lowe hit an RBI single and Hughes capped it with a walk-off double to deep left field. 

Elks starter Patrick Maloney, a former starting quarterback for the Blue Springs High School football team, said he throws the baseball in a similar way that he throws a football. He tossed four scoreless innings, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out seven. 

“My fastball was working. I have a little bit of a funky movement to it,” Maloney said. “Sometimes it’s on and today it was on. It sometimes goes straight, sometimes it cuts and sometimes it sinks.” 

Trey Stone got the win after giving up one unearned run on three hits in one inning. Hughes tossed a scoreless sixth and struck out two.