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Larason leads Maconaquah baseball past North Miami

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

In a rematch of a game that took place barely 48 hours prior, Maconaquah and North Miami met on the baseball field again Monday night, this time with both teams looking to advance up the TRC ladder.

The Warriors handled the Saturday meeting comfortable with a 17-5 win but the conference game went the opposite direction as the Braves took a 6-3 win late in the evening.

Maconaquah head coach Dustin Hays said the team flushed out Saturday’s game and played a very sound game Monday night.

“We told the guys that we had to erase that game from our memories,” Hays said. “We walked 15 batters against them Saturday, which is not normal for us, and we had to come out focused on what we had to do.

“Anytime we have Ethan (Larason) on the mound, we have a chance to win the ballgame. He had to settle down after the first couple of innings but he finished with 13 strikeouts and only three hits, which is what he expects out of himself and the team expects from him.”

North Miami head coach Troy Hudson also credited Larason for his work during the game.

“Larason was unbelievable tonight,” Hudson said. “We looked like we were going to get to him early and we had some good swings early on as he wasn’t as comfortable as he wanted to be, which ran his pitch count up.

“In the middle innings, especially after he hit his home run, he settled down and took control of the game. He brought it a little bit and our guys talked about seeing it but didn’t show it so much.

“If we got to him early, that would have been a benefit to us,” Hudson added. “We left some guys on, however, and that came back to haunt us in the end.”

After waiting for a JV baseball game between Maconaquah and Eastbrook to conclude, both teams were quick to get on the scoreboard.

The visitors got on the board in the first inning, starting with a Trevor Linn single, Shane Holden being hit by a pitch and a Matt Stewart single.

Zane Briggs rolled a ground towards third that Maconaquah managed to get one out from but was unable to turn the double play, allowing Linn to score for a 1-0 lead.

More damage could have been done as the bases were reloaded later in the inning but Larason induced a groundout to end the inning.

The Braves answered right back after Cody Koebler led off the bottom of the first with a single and moved over on Cole Alspaugh’s sac bunt.

Bryce Ward singled and Aaron Sedwick grounded into a fielder’s choice that plated Koebler to level the score at 1-1, a score that would remain that way when Larason was robbed of a home run at the wall.

Hays said there was a decided difference in the team’s demeanor throughout the game and it showed in the way they responded to trailing and the way they played in the field.

“There was a total difference in the dugout,” Hays noted. “There was an enthusiasm in their play, they were focused on what they had to do and it’s a big conference win for us.

“Hat’s off to Hunter Hays, who has had to step in as our emergency catcher as this was the first night he has caught Ethan and he did a great job tonight. Tonight was also the first game we’ve played this year without making an error.”

After a quiet second inning, North Miami moved back in front with two runs in the third.

Stewart singled, Briggs was hit by a pitch and Garrett Bahney drew a walk to load the bases, resulting in a run on Andrew Saddlemire’s grounder.

Briggs would score on a wild pitch later in the inning but further damage was again averted by Larason.

Maconaquah replied well again in the bottom half of the inning after Alspaugh singled, Ward was hit by a pitch and Aaron Sedwick reached on an error.

Larason drew a bases-loaded walk to force a run in while a second run scored on  a double play and a third came in on an error, allowing the Braves to take a 4-3 lead. Hudson said the team’s defense let a couple of chances for inning-ending plays go by that helped the hosts take the lead.

“We did alright,” Hudson said about the team’s defense. “We had an inning where we booted the ball around a little bit, a couple times at first base and allowed them to get a run.

“We didn’t have many bad plays but we didn’t make the big plays, which allowed them to score some extra runs. When you have a kid like Larason on the mound, you can’t fall behind like that and expect to come back.”

After a slow start, Larason cruised through the next three innings on the mound, allowing two base runners via walk with neither going further than second base.

Stewart, opposite Larson on the bump, only ran into trouble again during the fifth inning but it was trouble in the form of Larason.

Having been robbed of a home run earlier, the junior wasn’t denied a second time, hitting a two-run shot to give the hosts breathing space at 6-3. Larason’s hit was important to help the team relax according to Hays.

“Before the second at-bat, I told him he needed to hit the ball a little harder and he did that,” Hays said with a chuckle. “It gave us some breathing room because we didn’t feel one run was enough.”

Koebler came in for Larason in the seventh and, outside of hitting Holden with a pitch, made quick work of the final frame to record the save and earn Maconaquah its second TRC win of the year, moving level with North Miami at 2-6 in conference play.

After Larson had kept control of the came for six innings, Hays said Koebler stepped in and didn’t miss a beat.

“Cody came in and did a great job,” Hays pointed out. “He is cool, calm and collected, we played good defense behind him and got the job done.”

Both teams will play their final TRC game on Wednesday with Maconaquah traveling to Manchester while North Miami hosts Whitko.

Hudson said sending the seniors off with a win in their final home game would be great but also understood they would have to battle with a tough Wildkat team.

“We’re going to have to continue playing good fundamental baseball,” Hudson said. “When you boot the ball around a little bit and give teams extra outs, it’s hard to win.

“Coach (Erik) Hisner is a very good coach about doing the right things on the baseball field. They’ll be in the right positions to have a chance to win the game.

“No matter who they have on the mound, we’re going to have to play our best to get a win,” Hudson added. “It’s been a rocky four years for these guys, so sending these guys off with a win would be a nice thing to do.”

Hays said the Braves had a chance to get on a roll with a busy week of games and said a win in the final TRC game of the season was attainable.

“Wednesday can be a big win for us, too,” Hays said. “We have Koebler pitching and we have all the confidence in him to do well.

“He’s thrown well but not had a lot of run support. We’ve been playing better, hitting the ball better and Wednesday is definitely a winnable game for us.”

At Maconaquah

North Miami 102 000 0 — 3 3 2

Maconaquah 103 020 X — 6 7 0

WP — Larason 6 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 13 K

LP — Stewart 6 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, BB, K

S — Koebler IP, K

HR — Larason

RBI — Saddlemire, Briggs; Larason (3), Sedwick

Next Game: North Miami (6-12, 2-6 TRC) hosts Whitko for Senior Night Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Maconaquah (3-15, 2-6 TRC) travels to Manchester Wednesday at 5 p.m.