Elkhart Falls to Buffalo, 6-4
By Will Johnson
ELKHART – The Elkhart Elks welcomed the Buffalo Bison to town on Friday, March 29 for a District 20-3A matchup. The Elks sat at 3-2 in district play while the Bison led the district with a 5-0 record. A win by the Elks and they would only be one game behind Buffalo and Groesbeck for the top spot while a loss would put them three games down.
For five innings on Friday, it looked as if the Elks might just be able to pull out the win, but a four-run sixth inning plus two in the eighth inning gave the Bison a 6-4 win and knocked the Elks into fourth place with a 3-3 mark.
Brady Johnson got the start for the Elks and he was lights out in the first inning. He caught Tristan Best looking at strike three, forced Marshal Jonas to fly out to center and then coaxed Matthew Jonas to pop up to first for an easy 1-2-3 inning.
Jarrett Fishbeck got the nod for the Bison, but struggled with his control early on. After retiring Zerick Warren on a fly ball out and forcing Cole Evans to ground out, Fishbeck walked Bryson Adair and Landry Mays. He did settle down long enough, however, to get Johnson to fly out to center and end the inning.
The second inning wasn’t any better for the Bison as Chase Thompson grounded out to first, Jacob Henigan lined out to left and Fishbeck grounded out to short.
Whatever control issues Fishbeck had in the first were gone in the second. He coaxed a ground out from Jon Michael Mahon while Brooks Torma and Corban Whitfield struck out swinging to send the game into the third.
Johnson started out the third inning with a ground out from Alex Dawson and followed up with a K of Catch Thompson. He then yielded back-to-back base hits to Benny Avila and Tristan Best but forced Mar. Jonas to hit into a fielder’s choice to end the top of the inning.
When the Elks came in from the field, they drew first blood as they crossed the plate twice. Conner Walker and Warren walked to lead off the inning. Warren, however, was picked off at second but Fishbeck walked Cole to put runners at first and second with only one out.
Adair was up next and popped up to short which held the runners. Mays, however, came through in the clutch when he spanked a double into the right field gap which plated Walker and Warren and gave the Elks a 2-0 lead.
Unfortunately, Johnson was unable to aid his own cause as he grounded out to short to end the third inning.
A quiet fourth inning gave way to the fifth and while Johnson was still dealing for Elkhart, Fishbeck got yanked after the Elks added a run.
Fishbeck got Warren to pop out to first but Evans followed with a bunt which was misplayed for an error. Evans advanced to second on the error and that was all for Fishbeck as Marshal Jonas came on in relief.
Adair popped up for the second out, but Jonas uncorked a wild pitch which allowed Evans to move to third. Mays drew a walk and then Johnson knocked a single into right to push Evans across the dish which made the score 3-0.
Mahon walked to load the bases but Torma couldn’t keep the inning going as Jonas got him to swing at strike three to end the frame.
In the top of the sixth, the Bison bats finally woke up. Avila popped up to short but Johnson hit Best and then threw a wild pitch to advance him to second. Mar. Jonas was up next and slapped a shot into left to score Best. Mat. Jonas followed with a single and advanced Mar. Jonas to third.
A catcher’s interference call on Warren loaded the bases as Thompson took first and pushed Mat. Jonas to second. Henigan was up next and roped a double into left to plate the Jonas boys and make the score 3-3.
On the play, Thompson took third and when Fishbeck lofted a fly ball to medium left field, Thompson was able to tag up and cross the plate making the score 4-3, Buffalo.
Klaro Mancilla came in for Alex Dawson, but Johnson forced him to ground into a 5-3 out to end the top of the sixth.
The game stayed that way until the bottom of the seventh when the Elks managed to tie things up and send the game into extra innings. Adair flew out to lead off the bottom of the second and then Mays grounded out.
Things looked bleak for the Elks as they were down to their final out. A glimmer of hope appeared, however, when Johnson and Mahon both drew walks.
Although he had struck out in his three previous at-bats, Torma followed Mahon in the order and came through when his team needed him as he lined a Jonas pitch into left to plate Johnson and move Mahon to second.
That was all she wrote, however, as Whitfield struck out swinging to end the inning.
The Bison scored two runs in the top of the eighth and Henigan came in for Buffalo to close out the game as Buffalo defeated Elkhart, 6-4 win in extra innings.
Henigan picked up the win for the Bison in an inning of work while Mays took the loss after he yielded the two runs in the top of the eighth inning on two hits.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.