By Dave Wagner
DORA — The Elida Tigers are still trying to beat Dora in baseball.
They’re not there yet, but they’re defintely getting closer.
Elida hung close with the Coyotes until Dora’s Tyler Wilhoit delivered a two-run, bases-loaded single in the sixth inning to seal a 7-3 win in the District 6-1A opener for both teams on Wednesday.
“We’re still young, that’s all there is to it,” Elida coach Jimmy Ward said of his mostly freshman-and-sophomore squad.
“At least they didn’t 10-run-rule us like they usually do. We’re going to get there.”
Sophomore right-hander Phillip Danbom pitched 4 2/3 innings of two-hit relief after the Tigers (1-8) pulled even for the second time at 3-3 in the top of the third inning.
“I was surprised to go in that early,” said Danbom, who started the game at shortstop but relieved starter Brent Hays with one on and one run in in the third.
Danbom doesn’t live all that far from Elida and said he knows most of the Tigers players.
“I really want to beat them,” he said.
“But they put up a good fight. They definitely have improved.”
Freshman Wesley Gilmore pitched four innings for Elida, giving up seven hits and five runs. The Coyotes (3-5) took the lead in the bottom of the fourth on a leadoff double by Hector Fierro, a run-scoring fielder’s choice by Dan Massey and an RBI double by Travis Belcher.
“I felt like Wes pitched a pretty good game,” Ward said. “He just ran out of gas.”
Hays, who threw three shutout innings in a 4-0 Dora win over the Portales junior varsity on Tuesday, wasn’t as sharp in this one, Dora coach Ty Thatcher said.
“Brent threw 35-40 pitches the other day and nobody was close to touching him,” he said. “I don’t know if he was just hyped up, but he definitely didn’t have command like he did the other day.”
Dora jumped in front 2-0 on consecutive one-out doubles by Ben Massey and Hays in the first. Hays then scored from second on a throwing error.
Elida tied it in the top of the second on a double by Gilmore, a stolen base, a walk and stolen base by Caleb Widner, a sacrifice fly by Ever Varela and a run-scoring grounder by Austin Shrock.
Fierra singled, stole second and scored on a single by Travis Field in the bottom of the second. Elida pulled even again in the third when Trenton Chenault singled, moved to third on a passed ball and a wild pitch and scored on Tom Sullivan’s grounder.
Dylan Radcliff relieved Gilmore to start the fifth and worked out of trouble after walking the bases loaded, but a walk, an error and a hit batsman set the table for Wilhoit’s single to left in the sixth.
Thursday at Dora
Dora 7, Elida 3
Elida 021 000 0 — 3 5 2
Dora 210 202 x — 7 8 3
Wesley Gilmore, Dylan Radcliff (5) and Thomas West; Brent Hays, Phillip Danbom (3) and Dan Massey. W — Danbom. L — Gilmore. LOB — Elida 5, Dora 7. 2B — Elida: Gilmore. Dora: Ben Massey, Hays, Hector Fierro, Travis Belcher. T — 2:09.