Local Sports

Finding their swing

— Bevis Construction coach Randy Harris describes Erskin Toliver as an “all-around great athlete.”

The versatile infielder showed why he’s earned such praise from his coach on Monday night, as Bevis Construction rolled Got Milk? by a score of 10-5 in Dixie Boys (ages 13-14) baseball at the Max Long Complex.

Toliver started the evening on the mound, and then moved to shortstop. When his coach needed to make another pitching change, Toliver was brought in to catch, and he finished the game behind home plate. His defensive journey on the diamond didn’t seem to affect his hitting, as Toliver finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and scored a run.

“He even took a pitch in the back to get on base for us,” Harris joked.

In the top of the first, Toliver was the catalyst behind a four-run inning. He led off with a double, and eventually came around to score thanks to a handful of wild pitches from Got Milk? (0-5).

After Katwan Ward and DJ Williams reached on back-to-back walks, Tay Williams plated Ward with an RBI single. Got Milk?’s Gavin Szoka recovered to strike out Bailey Bevis, but a throwing error let Quesmael Sholtz reach first while Williams came around to score. Dylan Deford capped Bevis Construction’s (3-2) scoring with a sacrifice fly.

Got Milk? rallied in the bottom of the inning thanks to a two-run single from Hunter Jolly. With the deficit cut in half, both teams traded scoreless innings.

Bevis Construction wouldn’t be contained for long though, as the team exploded for five funs in the fourth. Ward led off the inning, stretching what should have been a single into a triple thanks to a slew of Got Milk? fielding errors.

Despite laying down a bunt, Toliver reached second while Got Milk? was busy trying to tag Ward. DJ Williams plated Ward with an RBI single, and a handful of wild pitches let Bevis Construction tack on two more runs.

Tay Williams singled and promptly stole second base to get into scoring position. Got Milk retired Bevis Construction’s next two batters, but Michael Warner singled to move Tay Williams to third.

Got Milk? fell prey to another wild pitch, and Tay Williams appeared to be caught in a rundown. But using some quick thinking, he scooted past the catcher without being tagged and crossed home plate safely. With Warner now at third, a balk from Got Milk? sent him home to round out the scoring for Bevis Construction.

“Our baserunning was very aggressive tonight,” Harris said. “I was very impressed with that. But after we got up early, we started to clown around and I had to make some subs.”

A disciplined-minded coach, Harris said he won’t hesitate to bench even the best player.

“I don’t care who it is. It could be the best player or the worst player,” Harris said. “I’ve got to do what’s best for the team.”

Got Milk? scored its final run in the bottom of the fourth, when Jaylen Wheelock plated Szoka with an RBI double.

Bevis Counstrcution made its final pitching change in the fifth. Wesley Clark came into relieve Tay Williams and the Little General didn’t disappoint. Clark fanned two batters and allowed just one hit in shutting the door on Got Milk?.

“Wesley did a tremendous job tonight,” Harris said. “And he’s never even pitched before. He’s been working really hard on weekends trying to learn how to do it, because he wants to do it, and tonight showed how much he’s improved.”

Entering the second half of the season, Harris added that he hopes his team can overcome a slow start.

“We’re finally getting up out of our slump,” he said. “I thought from the outset it was going to be a good night. But if we want to get better, we’ve got to continue what we started here tonight.”