Out for a month with a shoulder injury, Adam Elliott found motivation in a possible return for postseason play.
“It definitely drove me,” the St. Xavier High School pitcher said. “I worked my butt off to try to get back. I went to three different doctors, and they told me I had three different injuries. But the rest helped, and everything with rehab worked out.”
And now Elliott is making the most of the opportunity.
The senior left-hander tossed a three-hitter and struck out six as the Tigers beat Manual 2-0 on Thursday in the Seventh Region Tournament championship game at the University of Louisville’s Jim Patterson Stadium.
Elliott completed a remarkable run for St. X pitchers, who tallied 19 scoreless innings over three tournament games. Eric Hasselwander tossed a two-hitter and struck out 12 in a 17-0, five-inning win over Central on Monday. Daniel Fischer allowed five hits and struck out three in a 6-0 victory over Ballard on Tuesday.
Both Elliott and Fischer have signed with U of L.
“It’s just fantastic,” St. X coach Andy Porta said. “Our pitching carried us.”
St. X won four straight regional titles from 2011-14 but fell to Ballard 5-2 in last year’s regional final. Now the 16th-ranked Tigers (25-12) are headed back to the state tournament and will face No. 1 Greenup County (39-1) at 6 p.m. next Thursday at Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Lexington, Ky.
“It was redemption,” Porta said. “The seniors and some of the juniors were with us last year, so it was nice to them to get back over the hump and get back to Lexington.”
Manual (20-16) was gunning for its first regional title since 1962 and got a solid performance from senior pitcher Matthew Olson (six innings, two hits, two runs).
But the Crimsons couldn’t solve Elliott.
“They’re a model of consistency, and they know what to do when they get in this type of game,” Manual coach Matt Timbario said of the Tigers. “Our guys were right there with them. They believed from the first out until the 21st out.”
The Crimsons had a golden chance to take an early lead in the first inning, getting a leadoff double from Aaron Sary and loading the bases with one out.
But Elliott struck out Drew Marquardt and got Sam Clinard to ground out, ending the threat.
“When you get something like that in the first inning, you have to capitalize because you never know how many chances you’re going to get, especially off a pitcher like that who was on top of his game today,” Timbario said.
The Tigers got the only run they needed in the third. Zeke Porta reached on an error, moved to second on Stephen Mitchell’s sacrifice bunt and went to third on a passed ball. Elliott then lofted a double down the right-field line that scored Porta.
Sam Hedges’ RBI triple gave St. X a 2-0 lead in the sixth.
Meanwhile, Elliott was sharp and didn’t allow a Manual baserunner past first base after the first inning. Clinard led off the seventh inning with a single but was retired on a game-ending double play.
Elliott suffered a shoulder injury April 23 against Madison Central and had pitched just two innings since then (May 18 against Elizabethtown) before Thursday.
He said he enjoyed the tight nature of the regional final.
“I like the pressure a little bit,” he said. “It’s fun to go out there and know that you have to go shut them down or it’s over.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and email@example.com.
ST. XAVIER 001 001 0 – 2 2 1
MANUAL 000 000 0 – 0 3 1
WP – Adam Elliott (4-2). LP – Matthew Olson (6-4). 3B – Hedges (SX). 2B – Elliott (SX), Sary (M).
All-tournament team – Daniel Fischer, Adam Elliott, Eric Hasselwander (St. Xavier); Matthew Olson, Chris Gambert, Keenan Bilyeu (Manual); Noah Thompson, Slate Robinson (Male); Jordon Adell, Jordan Gunter (Ballard); Dylan Sexton (Christian Academy); Clayton Mehlbauer (Trinity); Jacob Frankel (Waggener); Keith Hackett (Central).