The Massac County baseball team shook off back-to-back losses to Anna-Jonesboro and Goreville last week and came out hungry Saturday morning, May 6, when they faced Murray (Kentucky) High School’s Tigers in Game 1 of the River Rivalry Invitational.
The 7-0 win over Murray was followed by a thrilling, 4-3 bottom of the seventh win over a tough Zeigler-Royalton Tornadoes team.
ZR came into Saturday’s action with a sparkling 22-5 record and wins over a handful of tough teams on their resume.
In the first game of the day, Massac had little trouble with the 12-12 Tigers from Murray. Luke Maurer and Andy Girot handcuffed the Tigers, limiting them to six hits and no runs. Meanwhile, the offense got busy in their first trip to the plate scoring three runs in the first inning, single runs in the second and third frames and a pair of runs in the fourth.
The M&M&M boys — Noah Melcher, Reid Martin and Adan Mizell — each drove in two runs to carry the offense with Melcher and Mizell each collecting two hits. Brayden Jennings also kicked in a pair of hits and scored twice.
In the Saturday finale, ZR got on the board in the first inning, taking a 1-0 lead. Massac countered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first. ZR tied things up in the third with a run, but Massac reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the third.
Not to be outdone, ZR caught up again in the top of the fourth and there the score stood at 3-3, until the bottom of the seventh. Massac grabbed a huge chunk of Ole Mo’ in the top of the seventh when Maurer inherited a bases loaded, one out jam with only a handful of pitches left in his account for the day. Needing a double play in the worst way, Maurer used up only three of his remaining pitches to induce just what the Patriots needed — a hard grounder back to the box. “Catch ball, throw home, throw to first” and game over!
Well, not quite yet. It was still tied at 3-3.
The bottom of the seventh was every bit as exciting as was the top.
Jennings reached base to lead off the inning. Mizell bunted him over to second and beat the throw at first. Then, Preston Summers laid down the second, dandy bunt of the inning and VOILA! Bases loaded and no one out.
A big strikeout threw a little cold water on the rally, but Drew Jacobs got a big hopper to ZR’s third baseman, and the throw home was high and wide, allowing the winning run to slide across the plate.
Although the Anna-Jonesboro and Goreville games on May 4 and May 5 were both losses, they were both competitive as the scores would indicate.
At Anna, the Patriots allowed four runs in the last two innings to fall 5-3.
At home against Goreville, the game was tight from the start. Massac starter Jennings had one rough inning, the fifth, allowing three runs, but it was enough for Goreville as both teams managed only four hits, and Massac’s offensive production was a single run in the third inning and a single run in the sixth.
On Tuesday, May 9, Massac recognized its two graduating seniors — Jacobs and Martin — prior to the game with Vienna, and in a well-played game with a “friendly rival,” the Patriots prevailed 6-2.
Trevor Hertter led off the bottom of the third with a single on a 3-0 pitch and the Patriots went on to send eight men to the plate, scoring two.
The Patriots added a single run in the third for a 3-0 lead and two more in the fifth for a 5-0 lead.
When starting pitcher Summers found himself in a bit of a jam in the fourth inning, Hertter made a spectacular, diving, inning-ending catch on the visitors’ bullpen mound to end the Eagles’ threat. The Eagles pushed across two in the top of the sixth on a two-out, bases loaded single by Tommy Holhubner. Jacobs came out from behind the plate in the seventh in relief of Summers and nailed down the win with a three up, three down seventh inning. Good pitching, good defense, heads-up base-running and timely hitting usually yields nice results.
The win pushes the Patriots’ record to 9-16-1, while Vienna slips to 9-11-1. Massac is scheduled to take on Hamilton County at home today, Thursday, May 11, and Carbondale on Saturday, May 13, at Carbondale.
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