Macks Creek had a big day at the plate.
The Pirates opened Class 1 District 9 play against State Road N neighbor Climax Springs in Hermitage Monday night and they did not forget to bring their bats in a 19-3 win over the Cougars.
Macks Creek coach Jason Trusty said pitchers are having to throw the ball more around the plate with the new pitch count rule and he was glad to see his hitters take advantage of it.
“At times it gets us in trouble, but we had guys that put the ball in play and it is just next man up and keeps going and going,” Trusty said. “We strung a few big hits together in a row with some runners on and it is nice to put a nine-spot up in the first inning because it kind of takes the pressure off you defensively and on the mound.”
Macks Creek had 13 hitters come to the plate and plated nine runs in the first inning highlighted by the bat of Chandler Charlton who started off with a double and then recorded a 3-run inside-the-park home run in his second at-bat.
“It’s a lot of fun being able to get to bat that much and go through the lineup with your teammates,” Charlton said of the team’s offensive success. “I did not expect to get an inside-the-park home run either when I hit the ball, but my coaches kept on sending me and I kept on going.
“He (Trusty) told us to stay back and drive the ball and that is what we did tonight. We came in and hit before the game tonight and I think that helped a lot too,” he added.
Although Climax Springs faced a tough hole to dig out of early, the Cougars did not go quietly and fought back with three runs of their own after capitalizing on four Macks Creek errors. Jacob Bryant brought home teammate Pake Moppin on a ball hit towards second base, Dakota Davis smacked an RBI-double to right field and Mykaela Robbins made it 9-3 by beating out the throw on a close play at first base which allowed Davis to come home.
“It is tough when we get down that quick in the first inning, but they came back that next inning and scored three runs with two outs so I was pretty happy with that,” Climax Springs coach Derek Carnahan said. “They just need to keep digging deep. We have a young team so leadership is lacking in that department, but I think next year we’ll have some guys step up and fill that role.”
Carnahan also emphasized to his team how quickly things could go their way if they just put the ball in play.
“They’ll make errors just like we do,” the coach said. “You have to put the ball in play and we just cannot afford to watch a strike go down the middle at this point, especially down that many runs. We just have to keep swinging the bat and good things will happen.”
The Macks Creek offense stayed hot with eight more runs in the second inning and plated their final two runs in the fourth.
At the end of the night, the bat of Hunter Lane paced Macks Creek with four hits and three RBIs. Charlton recorded two hits including his first varsity career home run to go with four RBIs, Austin Zollman and Zane Whitworth both had two hits and two RBIs, Cameron Charlton finished with a hit and two RBIs, Justin Register had an RBI and both Jesse Linton and Gage Mashburn recorded a hit.
Meanwhile, the pitching of starter Justin Register, Oscar Cortez and Cole Register got the job done on the mound for the Pirates. The trio combined to allow just two hits and four walks while striking out six batters respectively.
“Some of these guys have not thrown in a couple of weeks just because of the weather, and outside of the bullpen, we’ve got two main guys that we really ride and one guy after them,” Trusty pointed out. “For them to come in after not having a lot of mound time this season, I was really proud of the way they continued to make adjustments, find the strike zone and force the opposing team to put the ball in play so we could play defense.”
For Climax Springs, the pitching trio of Mason Apperson, Jake Reed and Bryant combined to allow 13 hits and nine walks while striking out two batters of their own. Offensively, Apperson and Davis recorded the team’s lone two hits.
Climax Springs ends the season at 0-10, but the good news is that the team will not lose any seniors to graduation so the team can build some continuity and continue working to improve.
“It is exciting,” Carnahan said of the prospect of all of his players returning. “Hopefully we can build upon what we learned this year. I have five freshman and four or five sophomores so if they all come back we should be ok.”
Macks Creek improves to 8-8 on the season and was scheduled to take on Wheatland (9-9) in the district semifinals Tuesday night. The two schools have faced each other twice this season with the Mules taking the first game 9-8 and winning the second by a final score of 5-3.
To fight another day and keep the season alive, Trusty said it would take a complete focus from start to finish because a team like the Mules will punish their opponents when they make mistakes.
“I told them they have to come out focused every inning and I told them I’m still waiting from the start, to the middle, to the finish for a complete 100 percent focus 100 percent of the time,” the coach remarked. “They (Wheatland) are a very talented group that is strong offensively, strong defensively and they throw the ball all over the plate. They are a very well-rounded team so we are gong to have to bring our ‘A-game’ like it was last year against them.
“It is going to be one of those games where the team that can score, can back up the pitching and do the small things is going to come out on top and advance to the title game on Wednesday,” the coach added.
Charlton, for one, is up to the challenge.
“We are just going to have to come in, play our positions and work hard at it,” he said. “Hopefully we can pull out another win tomorrow. That is what we are going to have to shoot for anyway.”
Trusty planned to put Mashburn on the mound for the Pirates who tossed five innings against Wheatland in a previous outing that ended up being a no-decision.
“We are going to run Mashburn out there, roll the dice and see what happens with him. I think we are better when he throws,” Trusty said. “I am looking forward to another matchup with (Wheatland Coach) ‘Pat’ (Dougherty) and his group. It should be a good ballgame tomorrow night.”
Should the Pirates advance, they will take on St. Elizabeth (10-6) or Hermitage (7-8) for the district title on Wednesday at 5 p.m.