Gainer, Bright lead Elkins to win at state tournament

SOUTH CHARLESTON – Matthew Gainer and Beau Bright combined on a no-hitter as Elkins opened Little League 11-12-year-old state tournament action with a 4-0 win over Bridgeport Sunday night at Little Creek Park.

Gainer, a left-hander, went the first 4 1/3 innings, striking out four and walking two.

Bright, meanwhile, fanned three of the four batters he faced in finishing in relief.

“To no-hit a team the caliber of Bridgeport is quite an accomplishment,” Elkins manager Jim Gainer said. “Both of our pitchers threw strikes and were around the plate, and to walk just two batters in a Little League game is something you don’t see very often.”

Matthew Gainer retired the first nine batters he faced before surrendering a walk to pitching counterpart Tyler Pitzer with two outs in the top of the third. No damage was done, however, as Gainer got a groundout and a strikeout to end the threat.

Groundouts were the theme for Elkins pitching, as seven Bridgeport batters were retired by infielders and no fly balls were hit to the outfield.

Elkins finally got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth when Gainer led off with a sharp single up the middle, and Jeremy Coger and Elliott White drew walks to load the bases for pinch hitter Grant Simmons, who cleared the bases with a double to right.

“Our bench players really stepped up at the plate for us,” Jim Gainer said.

“Any of those guys could be in the starting lineup and that shows what kind of depth we have.

“This was a great team tonight. Everyone contributed to the victory and we’re thrilled with our start at the state tournament.”

Bridgeport’s best scoring threat of the night came in the top of the fifth when Ethan Perry reached on an error and the courtesy runner advanced to third. But Elkins catcher Jessie Williams recorded the final out after the runner attempted to score on a wild pitch.

Elkins tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the frame when Read Schumacher’s fly ball was misplayed in the outfield, allowing him to trot into second and later score on Williams’ single to center field.

Bright then struck out the final two batters in the sixth to end the game.

Timmy Via, the second of three pitchers used by Bridgeport, took the loss.

Pitzer went the first two innings. allowing one hit and striking out two, while Jake Bowen finished in relief.

The victory puts Elkins in the driver’s seat in Pool B play. The local All-Stars will face Pineville at 8 p.m. today.

“Our goal is to come out with a win against Pineville and win this pool,” Jim Gainer said.

“We want to be the highest seed possible coming out of pool play.”

Pool play continues through Tuesday with the top two teams in each pool advancing to a single-elimination format starting on Wednesday.

“I’m not sure when the last Elkins team made it out of pool play,” Jim Gainer said. “But I’m sure it has been a long time. This is a great bunch of kids and they will be ready to play against Pineville.”