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Peru outlasts Manchester in TRC opener

INSTANT OFFENSE: Peru sophomore Duante Majors (L) takes third base with ease during the first inning of the TRC baseball opener against Manchester Wednesday evening. Majors doubled, stole three bases, drove in a run and scored a run, helping the Tigers to a 5-3 win over the Squires.

BY MATT FULLER - Peru Tribune Correspondent

 Peru’s baseball team came into Wednesday’s Three Rivers Conference opening game against Manchester riding a hot streak that saw the Tigers put up 56 runs in the first four games of the season.

The hosts were able to advance to 5-0 on the year, but it was contingent on a much closer contest as they grinded out a 5-3 win over the Squires at Tiger Field.

Peru Head coach Chuck Brimbury praised his team for establishing the lead after two innings, affording starting pitcher Lucas McConahay the comfort to settle in and throw for six and one-third innings.

“I’m proud of the kids. That’s a very good pitcher we faced tonight and it’s a cold, cold day. He’s a battler, he’s got two or three pitches and he throws hard on a cold day,” Brimbury said. “We got out there and got the lead for Lucas and held on.”

Manchester found themselves in scoring position early as leadoff hitter Grant Strobel singled before stealing second base and advancing to third on Noah Beck’s single. The Tiger outfield snagged a line drive and the infield was able to recover from an overthrow to tag Strobel out at home after centerfielder Robert Cunningham caught Mason Meyer’s fly ball.

Duante Majors doubled to open the bottom half of the first inning, going on to steal third but three strikeouts left him stranded.

Jeremiah Airgood singled down the third-base line to start the second inning for the Squires, advancing on Kaleb Fluke’s sacrifice bunt, and again on Mason Roberts’ single. A pop up and ground out from the next two batters enabled Peru to escape another inning unscathed.

Christian Gatliff reached first base on error, making it to third when Kasey Comp hit into a botched fielder’s choice. Comp stole second, following Gatliff home on DJ Fuller’s double for a 2-0 lead.

Majors singled to bring Fuller in, stealing second and third to set Kade Townsend up to do the same for him, good for a 4-0 lead after two.

Manchester head coach Jack Rupley spoke of his team not dwelling on their mistakes.

“We had those miscues there in the second inning and gave away some runs, and one thing I’ve got to say about the kids, we just kept battling and kept battling. If we don’t give away those four, it’s a little bit different ball game,” Rupley said.

“But you know what, that’s high school baseball and those things are going to happen. We talk to the kids a lot about ‘How are you going to react?’ and they hung in there. We battled and we came back, we gave up another one in the fourth, and then we battle back and get two more in the top of the seventh.”

Manchester managed to get on the board in the top of the third when Hayes Sturtsman’s double off the center field fence knocked Strobel in, avoided the tag in his second go around.

Comp got the run back for Peru in the bottom of the fourth when he singled and stole second, advanced to third on Cunningham’s sacrifice bunt and stole home.

Both squads left runners in scoring position in the bottom of the fifth and top of the sixth innings as Townsend’s line drive to center was good for a single, advancing when Brimbury and Blake Edwards put the ball in play, but the inning ended with a strikeout. Roberts’ double in the sixth also set him up to reach third on Trey McNall’s single, only to be left stranded by a pop fly.

Peru left a runner on third in the bottom of the sixth as well when Isiah Dmitry Reese came in as the courtesy runner on McConahay’s double and advanced. Again, the inning ended in a strikeout with a Tiger runner staring down the third-base line.

The stranded runners almost came back to haunt Peru as back-to-back singles from Strobel and Noah Beck would score on Sturtsman’s own single up the middle.

Freshman designated hitter Townsend came in to finish the inning on the mound—giving up a single to Airgood before throwing out the next batter on a fielder’s choice and striking out the third for the save.

“We had the winning run at the plate and just—the kid that they brought in, he brought the ball pretty good—got a strike out at the end, but you know, my kids didn’t quit and I’m proud of them for that,” Rupley said.

“If we can take care of those little miscues we’re going to be okay. I thought we got the bat on the ball pretty good tonight too. We didn’t find gaps often enough, like I was hoping, but you’ve got to give the Peru kids credit too, they made some plays. That’s what you have to do.”  

Brimbury also expressed pride in his team for outlasting such a tough opponent.

“I was so proud of Lucas battling it out and defensively the kids just kept battling. It was a tough night to play, things are wet, things are rough out there and both teams were doing their very best. I was really proud of Lucas McConahay—that’s what a number one looks like here—you get all of the big games, and he’s been doing that,” Brimbury said.

“He went out there and got the job done, I was proud of him. I was proud of Nathan behind the plate, battling back there and doing what he does for us. Daunte at short, played very, very well. Big hit out of DJ to get our first two runs home. Right down the line and that’s so good for him. That’s three games in a row with a double, he’s starting to get back into this mode and he’s got real good hands so, as it gets warmer you’ll see his bat continue to get better.

 “I’m really proud of the kids getting to 1-0. We’re two-time defending conference champs and it’s a really good, well-coached team by Manchester, Coach Rupley does a great job and that’s as good of a pitcher as we’re going to see all year. Good win for the Tigers at home.”

At Peru

Manchester 001 000 2 — 3 10 2

Peru 040 100 X — 5 8 3

WP — McConahay (6.1 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 1 BB 1K)

LP — Sturtsman (6 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 11 K)

2B — Roberts, Stutsman; Fuller, Majors, McConahay

RBI — Stutsman (3); Fuller (2), Majors, Townsend