MC just keeps the rally going
By Marcus Fitzsimmons | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ferrum ended its streak of one-run losses Saturday night. Just not the way the Panthers had hoped.
Maryville College extended the FC streak to four consecutive in the USA South series opener rallying in the ninth for a 12-11 victory, then snapped it in the nightcap with an 11-1 win that secured the three-game series for the Scots.
“We have a die-hard attitude. We’ve been down a lot this year but that’s one thing we take pride in is staying positive and not ever giving up. We just always believe in each other,” MC shortstop Nick Dean said after recording seven RBI over the two games punctuated with a solo home run. “It was great to get off to a good start the second game. Once we got up five runs we knew we were going to have a good day. It was good to keep that pop off the rally from the first game going.”
Scots 11, FC 1
Trevor Brackett (1-1) picked up the complete game win giving up six hits while striking out four and walking one. Eddie McGrath broke up the MC junior’s shutout bid with a two-out, sixth-inning homer but it was all Ferrum could muster against an error-free Scot defense and a Maryville battery that started fast and never cooled off.
“That was a point of emphasis to get on them early. They’re a very good team that’s kind of struggled early on. We thought after beating them in the ninth the first game that if we came out and put some runs on them early we could really put them on the heels,” MC skipper Paul Henry told The Daily Times. “Brackett was lights out except for one pitch. The offense put the runs up that took the fight out of them.”
Landon Talley connected to the fence on an RBI triple in the home side of the seventh for a 10-1 Maryville lead that kept the pressure on Ferrum and chased starter Jake Perkins (L, 1-3) for senior southpaw Mike Williams. An officially-ruled fair single from Zack Blonder gave MC it’s final run after much discussion among the crew.
MC built an eight-run advantage before McGrath’s homer. Dean crushed his final RBI of the day into the football stands backing left on the first pitch in the home side of fourth to make it 6-0. Jesse Crisp followed with an RBI single to reward Zack Blonder for the freshman’s double to right.
“It seems like error-free games are the games that we play well all around,” Dean said as MC put together slodi defense and big swings. “I think that’s the key for us, if we play solid defensively we play well all the way around.”
MC opened fast on a two-run first powered by an RBI double from Matt Jones and the fifth RBI of the day from Dean. The Scots added three more as Andrew Mabini cracked a two-run double to capitalize on three Scot swipes. Garrett Gresham brought the last run in patiently working a bases-loaded walk from Perkins for the 5-0 lead.
Scots 12, FC 11
Maryville rallied for two runs in the ninth to complete the second Scot rally in the series opener as Mabini led off with a double into the south gap. Travis Scates followed with a game-tying RBI single before a sacrifice and foul out took MC to its final out with the bases loaded. Dean (4-for-6) came through with the game winner finding the green grass in left field to score pinch runner Jacob Ashe for his fourth ribbie.
“The first thing I did (in the ninth) was kick myself for not just having Chris Hamilton safety squeeze and get it over with but we were at a good spot,” Henry said. “We’re finally starting to figure it out offensively. I think our hitting is only going to get better with the warmer weather. We’d been there before and knew what we were doing. It’s not easy but our guys are performing in those pressure situations.”
The rally allowed Maryville to take the opener despite giving up 13 hits, 11 combined walks from three pitchers and committing three errors, but Ferrum did its part, leaving 16 stranded. MC trailed 7-0 following a six-run first for the Panthers and a third-inning tack on. Maryville rallied behind back-to-back four runs frames and took a 9-7 lead off in the fifth.
The Panthers reclaimed the lead 11-9 in the top of the eighth to bring out the tartan rally caps.
Nick Bowers (W, 2-0) inherited two runners in the ninth but coaxed a fly out to center and struck out pinch hitter Taylor Davis to end the threat.
“We showed some resiliency after giving up that six-spot in the first. We knew (Matt) Dyer was going to be a little rusty because we didn’t play last weekend and he missed that start,” Henry said. “You can’t simulate game action in the bullpen. He’ll compete and be just fine for us next time. Our defense didn’t do much behind him in support early on either.”
Ferrum closer Justin Puentes (1-3) took the loss after both starters faced hot bats. Dyer went three innings, giving up five hits, walking six but only two of the seven runs tagged to the MC starter were earned. Ferrum starter Chris Walker walked two and surrendered seven hits and was tagged with four earned runs of the eight on board before retiring after four frames.
Ferrum and Maryville conclude the USAC series with a 2 p.m. start today on the first day of daylight savings time.
“It’s the most important game of this series and it’s important our guys stay focused and not give one back,” henry said. “We’re right in the middle of the conference standings and game three matters just as much game 1 or 2 for us at this point.”