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Ellis wins close one in state opener

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

PRATT -- Brandon Bollig's single in the top of the sixth inning didn't lead to any runs for the Ellis Class AA Legion baseball team, or have any impact on the outcome of the game.

But it was still a hit, something the 14 previous Ellis batters didn't accomplish.

But by that time Ellis (20-7) already had one run, and that was all it needed in its 1-0 win against Rock Creek/Westmoreland on Wednesday in the opener of the Class AA American Legion state tournament at Green Sports Complex.

"It was a battle and a grind," Ellis coach Casey McCoy said. "We got our first run there early in the first inning and I sure didn't think it could win the ball game in the bottom of the seventh."

The win advances Ellis to the winner's bracket of the double-elimination tournament, where it will play Sabetha tonight following the conclusion of Concordia and Iola, which begins at 6 p.m. Sabetha defeated host Pratt, 11-2.

When the first inning was completed Wednesday, nothing said it was going to be a pitcher's duel. Rock Creek got a hit in the first inning, but couldn't make anything of it. Bollig got Ellis' first hit in the bottom of the first, and two batters later scored when Cadyn McCoy smashed a single into center field to make it 1-0 Ellis.

That was essentially the end to any offense for either team for the duration of the game.

"It just seemed like the ball was not popping off our bats," Casey McCoy said.

Rock Creek was having just as much trouble at the plate, and a lot of that had to do with Bollig, who started on the mound for Ellis. While Bollig did have five strikeouts, he will admit it was the other eight players on defense that really came up with the team's shutout.

"Big props to them," Bollig said. "I'll give the game to them. They were making plays for me."

The play of the game came in the top of the third inning for Ellis. An error allowed Rock Creek's Zachary Nider to get on base, and a batter later Jesse Correll joined him when Bollig hit him with a pitch with no outs.

Just when it seemed to be unraveling for Ellis, Rock Creek's Ben Commerford hit a line drive into the glove of Ellis shortstop Koltyn Ratliff, who immediately got a force out at second when Nider had taken off the moment the ball was hit. Ellis nearly pulled the triple play, but the throw to first was a second late.

Rock Creek's Alex Feldkamp grounded out at the next at-bat to end the inning.

Bollig gave up another hit in the fourth inning before Rock Creek hit into a double play, and after giving up two singles with only one out in the fifth, retired the next two batters to once again avoid any damage.

"I was just running off of adrenaline there at the end," Bollig said. "My arm was getting sore when we started giving up hits, but I came back off of adrenaline that last inning. It felt good."

Trailing 1-0 heading into the top of the seventh and final inning, Rock Creek ran into the adrenaline-filled Bollig, who struck out the final three batters to end the game.

"Give them credit. Give their pitcher credit. Give their defense credit," Rock Creek coach Chad Herren said. "They found a way to find one run and that was it, that was enough to beat us."