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Three-time defending federation champ Martin Oil struggles to win opening game

It didn’t come easy. It very nearly didn’t come at all. Three-time defending George B. Kelley Federation regular season and playoff champion Martin Oil had to come back from 6-0 and 9-6 deficits and then hang on for a 12-11 win over Corporal Miller in the opening contest for both teams.
“I was really proud of the guys today,” said a very happy Martin Oil manager Ed Davis. “We have a lot of young kids, a lot of kids who hadn’t played baseball in a number of years.
“I think they had a major case of butterflies the first two or three innings and we got down a bit. Fortunately they kept their confidence and came back.”
Those jitters coupled with a walk, fielder’s choice and four hits put Corporal Miller in the driver’s seat early. Starting pitcher Matt Riley drove in the first run of the game with an fielder’s choice, Corporal worked a double steal to get another run to the plate and scored the third on Dustin Slowik’s infield hit.
Riley set Martin Oil down without a hit over the first three innings, although Chris Alley and Kyle Drost did reach base with back-to-back walks in the second.
Corporal Miller put three more runs on the board in the top of the fourth with a single by Drew Gehl driving in one and a double by Riley plating two more.
Martin Oil catcher Matt Albright broke up Riley’s no-hitter, with a looping single the second baseman couldn’t reach high enough to corral. Derek Reimer, courtesy running for Albright, moved up a base on a wild pitch and scored the first run of the season for Martin Oil on a double by Drost. Matt Plummer singled on the first pitch to get Drost home to slice the lead to 6-2.
An inning later, the crew from Bellwood scored four times to tie the score.
Reimer, now playing left field opened the inning with a single to left. Dustin Harris hit into a fielder’s choice, but Corporal Miller couldn’t get anybody out to put runners on first and second. Brandon Beech laid down a perfect bunt to load the bases with nobody out. Albright grounded to Corporal Miller shortstop Andrew Criste, who booted the ball for his team’s only error of the game. Reimer and Harris both scored before the play was over. Alley lined a one-out single to right to score Beech. After Drost walked, Plummer scored Albright with a fielder’s choice for the second out.
Corporal Miller continued scoring in threes, coming up with three more in the top of the sixth to take a 9-6 advantage. Riley and Brian McKee both reached base after being hit by pitches. Criste doubled both runners homer and came around himself with the third run of the inning on a double by Pat Gaeto.
After sending 10 batters to the plate to tie the game in the fifth, Martin Oil turned around and batted nine more in the bottom of the sixth to answer Corporal Miller.
After Harris and Beech walked and Albright singled sharply to left to load the bases, Ryan McCartney lined a single up the middle to score Harris. Riley then threw consecutive wild pitches that allowed Beech and Albright to score. Alley walked and stole second before moving to third on yet another wild pitch, this one by Corporal Miller reliever Criste that allowed McCartney to score with the go-ahead run. Leading 10-9, Martin Oil tacked on two more runs when Plummer drilled a home run over the left field fence.
Drost retired the first two hitters, before allowing Corporal to score twice in the bottom of the seventh with Criste driving in one run with a single and another scoring on a wild pitch to cut the Martin Oil lead to 12-11. Drost got Brandon Burns to hit a soft fly to center where speedy Dustin Harris made a running catch in short center field to end the game.
“We kept plugging away, we got even, went down again, got ahead, went down again and finally up got up enough to hold it,” was the way Davis described the action. “Matt Plummer hasn’t played in a couple years and got that big two-run home run. Matt Albright had a good game. Brandon Beech, a 16-year old, played a nice game for us, putting down a real key bunt in the fifth. Dustin Harris, another 16-year old had that really good catch at the end of the game for the final out that sealed it up. Kyle Drost was out there pitching his heart out, trying to get the win for us. I’m just really proud of the kids.
“Its going to take us a while to get it all together. We have seven kids that didn’t play any high school baseball in the game today. It will take some time to blend them together. Thank goodness we played good defense, we were able to struggle through and get the win.”
Dan Graham started for Martin Oil going the first three and 1/3 innings, followed by Dustin Harris for two innings before Drost pitched the final inning and 2/3 to pick up the win.
Criste led Corporal Miller with four hits followed by Riley, McKee and Pat Gaeto with three hits each. Riley had three RBI, Criste two and Gaeto one and each of the three also had a double.
Martin Oil 12 Corporal Miller 11
CORPORAL MILLER – Vogel, CF, 4-1-1; George, rf, 0-1-0; Gehl, cr-rf, 3-1-1; Wombacher, c, 4-1-1; Riley, p-lf, 4-1-3; McKee, 3b, 3-3-3; Criste, ss-p, 5-1-4; Slowik, lf, 4-0-2; Burns, cr-p, 1-1-0; Sisto, 3-0-0; Stoehr, 2b, 0-0-0; Gaeto, dh, 4-1-3. TOTALS 35-11-18.
MARTIN OIL – Harris, cf-p, 3-2-0; Beech, rf-cf, 3-2-1; Albright, c, 4-1-2; Graham, p-rf-ss, 0-0-0; McCartney, dh, 4-1-1; Alley, 2b, 2-1-1; Drost, ss-p, 2-1-1; Plummer, 1b, 4-1-2; DelGrosso, 3b, 3-0-0; McDaniel, lf, 1-0-0; Reimer, cr-lf, 3-2-1. TOTALS 29-12-9.
Corporal Miller 300 303 2 11-18-1.
Martin Oil 000 246 X 12- 9-1.
2B: Gehl 1, Riley 1, McKee 1, Gaeto 1, Drost 1.
HR: Plummer 1.
RBI: Riley 3, Criste 2, Gehl 1, Gaeto 1, Plummer 4, Albright 1, McCartney 1, Alley 1, Drost 1.
SO: Riley 5, Criste 2, Harris 1.
BB: Riley 6, Criste 1, Graham 4, Harris 2.
WP: Drost LP: Riley.