May 14, 2003 11:00 pm
BRINGING THE HEAT: Elgin's Skyler Payne (left) and Imbler's Jeff Smith battled in a great pitchers' duel Wednesday. (The Observer/PIERRE LaBOSSIERE).
BRINGING THE HEAT: Elgin's Skyler Payne (left) and Imbler's Jeff Smith battled in a great pitchers' duel Wednesday. (The Observer/PIERRE LaBOSSIERE).

By Pierre LaBossire

Observer Staff Writer

ELGIN — The second-year Imbler baseball team announced Wednesday that it has arrived with a pair of five-hitters and a sweep over Elgin.

Imbler won 3-1 and 7-1 behind solid pitching by Jeff Smith, Tanner McIntosh and Travis Hoskins.

The wins give Imbler a record of 9-3, in third place in the Wapiti League. Elgin drops to 7-5 and is still in playoff position, but the Huskies have to worry about fending off 6-6 Nyssa for that final postseason slot.

When asked if these wins were important for the Imbler program, Imbler co-coach Monty McIntosh responded, "oh man, yeah."

McIntosh called the first win "huge" because it gave Imbler eight league wins and assured them of postseason. This is just the second year for Imbler baseball and the first year the Panthers have played in the Wapiti League.

Elgin coach Gordie Simons said the Huskies are really going to have to fight now to make sure they make postseason, especially since Elgin's last two league games are against first-place Grant Union.

"We've gotta dig deep and fight Grant Union," he said.

The first game was a great pitchers' duel between Imbler's Jeff Smith and Elgin's Skyler Payne.

After Blake Eckstein drove in a run in the first inning to give Elgin a 1-0 lead, Imbler came back with two runs in the second. One run came on a home run on a low pitch golfed to dead center field by Tanner McIntosh.

Imbler's Zach Myers drove in a run in the third when he fisted a soft line drive to right for a base hit.

From that point on, both Smith and Payne bore down, not allowing any more runners to score.

Elgin threatened several times. With two on and two out in the fifth, Elgin's big slugger Eckstein came up to bat. Smith got him to ground out to short.

Elgin got runners on in both the sixth and seventh innings but couldn't get them past second base.

"I believe a couple of mental mistakes cost us the game," said Simons. "It was a great game all-around."

Simons said Elgin did have its chances.

"It was there. We just didn't get the job done."

Smith gave up just five singles.

The second game was also close until the late innings. The game was tied 1-1 entering the sixth inning when Imbler exploded for four runs, and added another two runs in the seventh.

"(Pitcher) Codi Burgess did a great job for five innings. The wheels just fell off the cart," said Simons.

McIntosh and Travis Hoskins combined on a five-hitter in this game, all singles.

Elgin hosts Grant Union (10-0) at noon Saturday, while Imbler ends its regular season at second-place Joseph (9-1) at noon Saturday.

Imbler 021 000 0 — 3 9 2

Elgin 100 000 0 — 1 5 3

Smith and Myers; Payne and Schumacher.

Elgin hits — Eckstein 2, McDonald, Payne, Burgess. RBI — Eckstein.

Imbler hits — Crow 3, McIntosh 2, O'Donald, McKinnis, Myers, Hoskins. 2B — McIntosh. HR — McIntosh. RBI — Smith, McIntosh, Myers.

Imbler 100 000 0 — 1 5

Elgin 000 104 2 — 7 9

McIntosh, Hoskins (5) and Myers; Burgess, Eckstein (6) and Schumacher.

Elgin hits — McDonald, Eckstein, Burgess, Foster, Schumacher. RBI — Eckstein.

Imbler hits — McKinnis 2, Miller 2, Hoskins, McIntosh, Crow, Myers, Harder. 2B — McIntosh, Miller, Harder. RBI — Myers 2, Harder 2, McKinnis.