Niles F.O.P. ousted

Published 7:50 pm Thursday, July 15, 2004

By Staff
The Niles F.O.P. 9-10 year olds were knocked out of the District 15 tournament Wednesday when their apparent come-from-behind victory was erased in the bottom of the sixth inning. The team lost 5-4 to Three Rivers.
Niles struggled early against Three Rivers in the losers' bracket of the double-elimination tournament. The F.O.P. had trouble getting hits off Three Rivers' big pitcher Sam Shutes.
Shutes struck out six batters in the first four innings, before Niles could score a run. He struck out seven total.
Meanwhile, Three Rivers scored early, using runs in the second and third innings to grab a 2-0 lead.
Niles' bats came alive in the top of the fifth, however. The team scored two runs on three hits, including an RBI-triple by Shawn Dudka, to tie the game. Dudka and Jay Williams scored the runs, both on close plays at the plate.
Heading into the sixth inning, the score remained tied at 2-2. After Niles' Austin Parks reached third base with a lead-off double and a steal, Williams knocked him in with a long double deep to centerfield.
Williams later scored on a wild pitch to give Niles a 4-2 advantage after scoring four unanswered runs in the final two innings.
In the bottom of the sixth, Three Rivers loaded the bases with one out. After a fly ball to left field scored one run, Three Rivers' David Hartsig grounded to Niles' third baseman Josh Clark.
Clark tagged the bag, then threw home. The throw went over the catcher's head, allowing the runner to tie the game at 4-4.
A two-out single by the next batter won the game 5-4 for Three Rivers, ending Niles' comeback attempt and its District 15 championship hopes.
In the 11-year-old league, Niles rolled over Coldwater in four innings. Montrell Merritt started the game and got the win for F.O.P. Matt Gaul pitched in relief.
F.O.P. was led by Derek Marquis with a triple and a single. Merritt and Dustin Wright had two singles. Evan Zimmerman and Justin Hughes had one single each.
Niles stole 14 bases in the game. The 11-year-olds play against Three Rivers tonight at 6 p.m. in Mattawan.
The 9-year-old team played in Dowagiac Tuesday night. It won the first game 3-2 against Dowagiac.
The second game was against a 10-year-old travel team from Gobles.
Niles remained close and kept the game tie 4-4 heading into the sixth inning.
Gobles scored four runs in the final inning, however, to win 8-4.
The 9-year-old F.O.P. team plays Benton Harbor and Coloma on Saturday and Paw Paw and North Lincoln on Sunday.