The Pirates utilized a hit parade, racking up 13 total hits as a team, and the result was a 14-1 win over the Cougars in five innings.
Macks Creek brought its bats to Climax Springs Monday night.
The Pirates utilized a hit parade, racking up 13 total hits as a team, and the result was a 14-1 win over the Cougars in five innings. Every Pirate in the lineup did their part by delivering a hit, being a baserunner or scoring a run.
“It was pretty good. We came out thinking we needed to hit the ball pretty well and we did,” said Macks Creek’s Tanner Smith who finished the day with a hit and two RBIs.
“Just be up there, be angry and be ready to hit the ball,” he added of the mindset required at the plate. “Load up, get ready to hit and smack the ball.”
But the bats were not all Macks Creek brought. After a tough outing at state-ranked Halfway on Friday, the Pirates also had a good attitude coming into Monday night’s game. Coach Jason Trusty said it began with Sunday afternoon practice, which may have been the first in his tenure, and there was a sense of urgency and intensity as his club got to work.
“That state-ranked moniker next to the name adds pressure to the team that is going to play them. We knew they (Halfway) were good going in and they beat our pitching staff around a little bit,” Trusty recalled of Friday night’s game. “But I think what we took away from that is that we have to compete night in and night out and that is something we had done up to that point. All of a sudden, nothing worked that night so it was nice to see us make some adjustments and come out like we did tonight.”
Macks Creek got started right away, adding three runs in the first and never looking back. After scoring a run in the second, the Pirates busted the game wide open in the third with seven more runs before adding the final three runs in the fifth.
Justin Register, Grant English, Gage Mashburn, Oscar Cortez and Cole Register all had two hits for Macks Creek while Hunter Lane and Trever Smith also added a hit each. Meanwhile, Cortez and Trever Smith finished with two RBIs while Cole Register, Lane and Carsen Strutz each had an RBI of their own.
“Climax has improved. They played better defense today, made plays in front of them and kept us off the board there for a little bit,” Trusty said of the neighbors just a few miles up State Road NN. “Our guys made a good adjustment at the plate, found a way to score some runs and put the pressure on them. That was something that was lacking for us on Friday.”
Jacob Bryant was on the mound for Climax Springs and the pitcher worked the first three innings, allowing three earned runs on nine hits while striking out one batter and walking two. Pake Moppin came in relief and worked the rest of the way, allowing three runs on four hits while striking out and walking one.
“They (Macks Creek) were hitting in the gaps pretty well and there is not a whole lot we can do with that. I was pretty happy I did not have to go talk to my pitchers too much today,” Climax Springs coach Derek Carnahan said. “They threw strikes and if they are going to hit the gaps, there is nothing we can do.”
However, there was one Cougar that caught Carnahan’s eye as shortstop Cole Smith did not let too many balls hit his way get past him.
“My freshman shortstop did a really great job today. He has started a few games here and there and does a lot of pitching for us, but everything hit to him today he seemed to field,” Carnahan said of Smith.
Ultimately, the cause would be helped out by a few more hits.
“At the plate we have to be more aggressive and put the ball in play just like they did to make things happen,” Carnahan noted.
And Climax Springs certainly had its chances. After a leadoff double in the second from Alan Abernathy, an RBI-single from Gage Smith put the Cougars on the board. Climax Springs proceeded to load the bases in the same inning, but a strikeout ended the threat. Another runner in scoring position in the third also could not find a way home.
“We get runners on and we just can’t capitalize. With bases loaded and the top of the order up, we have to produce or we are not going to be in games,” Carnahan pointed out. “We just have to do a better job with runners on base and getting the ball in play.”
The pitching of Macks Creek may have made that task a little harder as Cole Register got the start and worked the first four innings, allowing a single run on two hits while striking out six and walking three to pick up his first win. Cortez came in to finish the rest and the southpaw retired all three batters he faced.
“Cole did an amazing job and Oscar is a beautiful lefty,” Tanner Smith said of the pitchers.
Trusty would certainly agree with that observation, noting that he liked what he saw on the hill.
“It was Cole’s second start and he has thrown minimal innings, but he got us through four. He struggled a little with locations at times, but he is usually the guy behind the plate and we had a freshman behind the plate that does a good job framing the ball and keeping pitches in the zone,” Trusty stated.
“That is the best we’ve seen Oscar throw all season. He struggled a little bit in his earlier appearances and tonight he felt comfortable. The balls that were put in play, we played defense behind and he did what he needed to do and kept the ball down. We hope that will be a building point with the regular season coming to a close.”
Both teams were scheduled to be in action the next day with Macks Creek (8-9) visiting Iberia on Tuesday and Climax Springs (0-14) hosting Osage. Up next for the Pirates is a home game against Laquey on Monday at 5 p.m., while Climax Springs hosts Stover at the same time.
Trusty said the battle at Iberia would be no walk in the park, but the simple thing to remember is just to compete.
“Our schedule is built to make us better and at this point in the season, it is just going to give us a good show of where we are against a good Class 2 team,” Trusty said of Iberia on Monday night. “We are just hoping to come out, continue to do what we’ve been doing... From the first pitch to the last, whenever that is, if we compete we’ll be in ballgames.”
For Carnahan and his Cougars, it is all about putting some good innings together and improving.
“We just have to string it together. We’ve had a couple of good innings here and there, but then we’ll give up eight to nine runs in one inning,” the coach remarked. “The second or third inning is about it for us and if we can get through those without any problems, I think we could go the distance. We got a young team and they are working hard and learning so that is what is most important.”
Osage will be another tough test, but Carnahan is confident in junior hurler Jake Reed.
“Osage is a good team and we just have to play good defense, throw strikes and hopefully put the ball in play,” the coach said on Monday. “I got a junior pitcher that is going to start for me tomorrow and he did a really good job against Stoutland the other night, but our defense has to step up if we want to compete.”