AKRON -- It could have been a controversial call with two out in the second inning that led to two Indiana runs.
Or maybe Elyria simply exhausted its offense 24 hours earlier.
But in the end, it doesn’t really matter. The blown call and five hitless innings steered Elyria’s East Little League Junior All-Stars to a 5-1 loss to Indiana on Wednesday at Firestone Stadium.
It knocked the Elyrians out of the 14U Central Division Regional Tournament and ended their quest for a trip to the World Series in Kirkland, Wash., next week.
After giving up a leadoff single in the first inning, Elyria pitcher April Howser had retired seven batters in a row before Indiana hurler Camryn Teague singled with one out in the home third. It set the stage for the call at second base that turned the game around.
Facing a 1-2 count, Jennifer Peffley grounded to the right side. Elyria went for the force out at second and the throw clearly beat Teague by a step. But she was called safe and Peffley -- little knowing she would shortly score the eventual winning run -- stood on first with a fielder’s choice.
Meghan Lay, also facing a 1-2 count, followed with a double to right field, sending Teague and Peffley running home.
“You saw their first two runs occurred after (a questionable call),” Elyria manager Len Howser said. “If we had replay, it was a clear force out at second base, which would have ended the inning. Then after that, they hit a little flare over the first baseman’s head that kicked into this open apron here (near the right field foul line) and scored two runs.”
Indiana scored three more runs on three hits and an Elyria error for a 5-0 lead after five innings.
Elyria had an excellent opportunity in the second inning when it loaded the bases with one out after a single by Kaeli Evens, a walk by Faith Hamilton and another single by Sara Liszeski.
But Teague got a force out at the plate on a come-backer and struck out the next batter to end the threat. The strike out seemed to deflate the Elyria girls and marked the beginning of a stretch in which Teague retired 10 in a row.
They didn’t have another baserunner until April Howser led off the sixth with a single to center. Howser went to second on Alexis Reinhardt’s infield single, and Howser and Reinhardt advanced on Cassie Miller’s grounder to the right side. Howser eventually scored on a wild pitch.
Gabby Shackelford followed with an infield single and both she and Reinhardt moved up on the wild pitch but Elyria left runners at second and third after Indiana got an infield pop out and Teague struck out the next batter to end the rally.
“This is what a competitive softball game is all about,” Len Howser said. “Breaks go one way and not the other way, two teams pretty evenly matched. You know they say, ‘That’s the way the ball bounces,’ and today that’s the way the ball bounced.”
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.