By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian
It ain’t over till it’s over.
North Marion (3-4) proved that, despite falling to Elkins, 13-8, during its home opener Thursday night from North Marion High School.
After falling behind, the Huskies proved that you can still take something away from a late-inning rally despite taking home an “L.”
The lesson came in the bottom of the sixth inning with North Marion trailing, 11-2, and needing to make something happen. Keegun McCollough, who already had two solo home runs under his belt, led off the inning with a single, which Skyler Brooks followed up with a single of his own, setting the stage for Ryan Jolliffe two batters later. Jolliffe came through, scoring both runs.
McCollough knew he had to rally the troops after that.
“Once we picked up, I knew we were picking right where we left off with Grafton,” McCollough said.
From there, the Huskies would keep the rally going, scoring runs on an Angelo Bombardiere double, an error, a Travis Smith single and a Matt Hawkins single, bringing the game back within reach at a score of 11-8.
After allowing two more runs to the Tigers in the seventh, North Marion went down in order to end the inning.
“I’m not disappointed in our kids at all,” North Marion coach Vic Securro said after the loss. “You have to give some credit to Elkins. They hit the ball and put it in play. We made several errors, I understand that, but what I’m proud about is that they never dropped their head. They hung in there and made a nice comeback.
“Theoretically, we were in the game the whole time because with our offensive power I felt we were in the game the whole way, and it showed.”
If the Huskies become Superman with their hitting abilities, the second inning was their kryptonite.
Elkins brought all nine batters to the plate, scoring five runs on six hits, including a two-run home run by Colby Gainer, to take an early 7-1 lead, one from which the Huskies would never recover.
There are bright spots, however, to take away from the game.
For starters, McCollough showed that he can mentally keep his team in the game with just the swing of his bat, going 3-for-4 with two homers and two RBIs on the night. But those personal numbers weren’t what stuck out the most about the junior catcher. Rather, it was the way he gathered his team together while they were trailing.
With Brooks on the mound and some costly errors coming in the field, he knew his team needed to get the bats going.
“(I told them to) give your pitcher support. You can’t do it by yourself,” he said. “There’s an old saying: ‘There is no “I” in team.’ You’ve got to keep them in it somehow.”
Securro said he saw that fight in his team, not letting what happened in the field get in their heads at the plate, especially in Smith, who had a few untimely fielding errors.
“I told him, don’t get down because you still got to do your job at the plate,” the coach said of Smith, who went 3-for-4 with an RBI from the leadoff spot. “I’m proud of him for that. I’m proud of them all for that.”
After ending the game with a strong hitting performance, the team will hope to carry it over into today’s game against Buckhannon-Upshur, the Huskies’ second home game of the season.
What can they do to win?
“Hitting, being aggressive,” McCollough said. “We have a prayer before every game and I say after that prayer to be aggressive. If you get a strike on that first pitch and you like it, hit it. It might be the only one you get to hit. You got to do what you do.”
Leading the way for Elkins on the night was Gainer, who went 3-for-5 with the two-run shot, a double, single and three RBIs on the night.
Email Matt Welch at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.