Elk Grove bowed out of the American Legion baseball state tournament Thursday, dropping a 6-3 decision to tournament host Trenton for a second straight loss in the double elimination tournament format.
For a second straight day, the Red Sox were in a tight game until the latter stages. This time, Elk Grove led 2-0 after the fifth inning.
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"I kind of felt like when we were up by a couple of runs, that would make the difference for us," said Red Sox coach Kevin Miller. "I felt like that might loosen us up a little and get us playing the way we know we can."
Instead, it seemed to inject some urgency into Trenton's approach. The hosts answered with 4 runs in the top of the sixth inning and stayed in control the rest of the way.
The Red Sox finished the season 29-8 as Miller, a former Elk Grove player, completed his first season in charge of the team.
"It's hard to be positive right now because we'd planned to come down here and win some games," said Miller. "But that's baseball. There's only one team leaving this tournament with a victory."
On balance, the season was still a big success for Elk Grove. Miller pointed to the big strides taken by players such as Cook County tournament MVP Thomas Byrne along with Jordan Grubb and Danny Guido as the key to the team's success this year.
"For college players, there's a huge jump between their freshman and sophomore years -- it usually takes a year for those guys to really understand what the game is about at that level," Miller said. "I can see a lot of our guys really taking that step, and they'll be much better college players next season."
Alex Tinkoff got the start for Elk Grove on Thursday and pitched 5 shutout innings before allowing a leadoff walk in the sixth as Trenton rallied.
"Any time you're able to put together a season like the one we had, it builds momentum," Miller said. "Hopefully we'll see some benefit to all we've achieved this summer. I think we will.
"Legion baseball is still a big deal. It's a great competitive situation for these players, and it's alive and well."