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Trojans threaten late, but fall to loaded Elk Grove team, 6-5

By: By Nick Pecoraro/Telegraph Correspondent
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The Oak Ridge baseball team suffered its first defeat of the 2013 season Tuesday, but the Trojans were no pushover in their 6-5 loss to Elk Grove, the top-ranked team in the Sacramento area.

The Trojans gave Elk Grove (5-1) a shove in their last at-bat and had the winning run aboard before finally succumbing to the visiting Herd. Oak Ridge Coach Todd Melton knows that his squad will be able to compete with anybody this season.

“We’re easily as good as those guys (Elk Grove),” he said after the game. “They’ve got some blue chip type players. There was a little bit of gripping and nervous energy in the beginning because I still don’t think we know just how good we are yet. We’re coming away from this game pretty hungry.”

Down three runs in the bottom of the seventh, Oak Ridge plated two runs on FP Santangelo’s bases-loaded single, bringing the score to 6-5. Elk Grove received what proved to be an invaluable insurance run in the top half of the seventh on a somewhat questionable call.

With the bases full, Herd third baseman Landon Gastelum was awarded first base on a pitch that the home plate umpire originally ruled a foul ball off the knob of his bat. After protest from Elk Grove coach Jeff Carlson, the call was overturned and ruled a hit-by-pitch, forcing in the eventual game-winning run for the Herd.

Until that point, Trojan reliever Ryan Sullivan was magnificent out of the bullpen. The sophomore tossed 4 1/3 innings without surrendering an earned run and striking out five hitters.

“Sully’s one heck of a sophomore pitcher. The sky’s the limit for him,” said Melton.

Oak Ridge opened up the scoring in the first. After Mickey Meinhofer fisted a single into right and Logan Denholm doubled off the left field fence, Alec de Watteville’s sharp grounder snuck past the Herd third baseman to score Meinhofer for a 1-0 lead.

The Herd lined six singles in the third inning and put a five-spot on the board behind a pair of run-scoring knocks from top players Dom Nunez and Ryan Tellez. A couple of Oak Ridge errors allowed two more runs and gave Elk Grove a four-run lead.

Oak Ridge answered back in the bottom of the third with an RBI single from Tanner Ales and a run-scoring triple from Logan Marston to make it 5-3.

Trojan starter Tommy Hummer pitched well through the first two frames. With runners on second and third and nobody out in the first, Hummer got both Herd sluggers Nunez and Tellez to strikeout looking before escaping the jam unharmed. He then retired the side in order on just six pitches in the second inning.

“We had so many opportunities. Early in the game, we had runners in scoring position with less than two outs. We just didn’t take advantage of it,” said Melton, whose team is now 3-1 heading into a game with Yuba City on Thursday. “If we can take the sense of urgency like we had in the last inning in our early at-bats, then we’re right there. We have just as much talent as anybody. We just have to continue to get better every day.”