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Peru topples Oak Hill; Maconaquah avenges North Miami loss

ROBBED: North Miami center fielder Braxton Gunter takes away a hit from Oak Hill with a catch at the warning track during the consolation game of the Miami County Classic Saturday evening. Gunter and the Warriors suffered two losses on the day, falling to Maconaquah 4-3 before losing steam late against the Golden Eagles in a 14-1 loss.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

There was a point where Peru’s chances of winning the Miami County Classic were very slim Saturday.

Trailing Oak Hill 4-1, a sixth inning rally sparked the Tigers to life, giving the team a 5-4 win that sent them into the championship game later in the evening.

Peru head coach Chuck Brimbury praised the players for always believing they were going to win the game.

 “The kids understood what kind of team Oak Hill has as they got us in the final last year because they do things the right way, they’re fundamentally sound and put pressure on you. Coach (Shane) Edwards is a former Peru Tiger, so we’re aware of how he does things and it showed as the pregame looks a lot like ours.

“We’re proud of the kids for the way they fought back from being down 4-1 because it was a tough climb,” Brimbury added. “That said, at no point did the kids think there were out of the game or that they weren’t going to win the game.

Wes Transier opened the game for Oak Hill with a double, later scoring on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Spencer Ballinger for a 1-0 lead.

The score would remain that way until the fourth inning when Nate Alston singled, stole second, moved to third on a sac bunt and scored on a Ryan Younce single to double the lead.

Caleb Middlesworth had gotten out of the first inning without damage and cruised through the second and third innings but finally got hit hard in the fourth.

Christian Gatliff opened the inning with a solo home run, cutting the deficit in half to 2-1.

Transier manufactured a runoff a single in the fifth, stealing second base before moving to third on a balk and taking home on a wild pitch.

Cal Mann would score in the sixth after reaching on a single, moving to second on Younce’s fielder’s choice and scoring on a Will Haney double.

Holding a three-run lead looked to be a strong position for the Golden Eagles but the lead would not make it to the seventh inning.

Nathan Brimbury led off the bottom half of the sixth with a single before Gatliff was hit by a pitch.

Lucas McConahay and Robert Cunningham drove in runs with back-to-back singles to trim the gap to 4-3, with both runners later scoring on wild pitches to give the Tigers a 5-4 lead that would not be threatened in the seventh.

Brimbury said all the team needed was for a couple of things to go their way and the game snowballed from there.

“All it takes is a couple of things to happen for the momentum to change the game,” Brimbury said. “We’d been shutdown outside of Christian’s home run but once we got runners on base, Middlesworth was a different pitcher.

“We also started to get ahead in the count instead of falling behind and now, we could look for the fastball, we could get the running game going and the pitcher had to throw something on the outer third instead of a breaking ball. We’ve had plenty of games where, in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings we put up big numbers and go on to win the game.

“We were confident that we would get the runs in the sixth and that came to fruition,” Brimbury added.

In the second game of the day, Maconaquah and North Miami took the field five days after the Warriors had upended the Braves 7-5.

Both teams struggled to plate runners throughout the game but Maconaquah managed to plate a run in the bottom of the seventh to win 4-3 after North Miami had tied the game at 3-3 in the top half of the inning.

Braves head coach Dustin Hays said the bats struggled to get going though the pitching was able to keep the Warriors at bay.

“We did get a timely hit in the seventh inning against North Miami but we didn’t hit the ball well all day,” Hays said. “(Patrick) Masters was throwing strikes, which is what you want to see from your pitcher.

“They fielded the ball and we didn’t get a key hit like we needed to until the seventh inning. Zack Bullock pitched well and Chase Haney did well to finish things up on the mound.”

North Miami head coach Troy Hudson praised Masters for his performance but also noted the bats couldn’t find the right spots to get runs in.

“Patrick pitched a phenomenal game against Mac, one of the best games he’s ever pitched, and I hated to pull him in the seventh inning but we got in a spot where we ran out of positional players,” Hudson said. “We brought in Nate to try and keep it where it was and try to get it to the eighth inning.

“A lot of guys battled in the seventh to get a run across, tying the game, and had chances to take the lead but, again, we couldn’t get the timely hit.”

North Miami started the game by loading the bases but back-to-back strikeouts from Bullock kept the visitors on the scoreboard from getting a run in.

Maconaquah would be the first to get on the board as Bullock reached on an error and later scored on a Zac Snyder fielder’s choice.

The Warriors tied the game in the fifth when Matt Stewart drew a walk and was plated by Austin Carter.

Two runs in the bottom of the inning gave the lead back to the Braves Cody Koebler and Snyder hit back-to-back singles, allowing Koebler to score, while Aaron Sedwick hit into a sac fly to score a third run.

North Miami pulled a run back in the sixth when Nate Musselman hit a sac fly to plate Alex Masters and tied the game in the seventh when Zane Briggs singled to bring in Jackson Holland.

Sedwick would save the Braves in the bottom half of the inning after Musselman walked Koebler and Snyder, singling to plate the winning run to advance to the final.

The consolation game featured North Miami and Oak Hill, a game that ran away from the Warriors in a 14-1 loss.

Transier started the consolation game much like he had in the first, doubling and scoring off the bat of Ballinger for a 1-0 lead.

A series of errors from Oak Hill allowed Carter to score in the second inning but that would be the last Warrior runner to reach scoring position.

The Golden Eagles would retake the lead in the fourth after Landry Ozmun reached second on a two-base error and scored on Garrod Creech’s sac fly.

Alston would also score on an error later in the evening, extending the lead to 3-1.

Haley drew a walk to lead off the fifth, later scoring on a wild pitch to give Oak Hill a three-run lead.

The floodgates opened in the sixth inning as six consecutive runners reached and scored.

Alston led off with a single while back-to-back walks to Creech and Mann loaded the bases for Ryan Younce, who singled in two runs.

An error would bring in a third run with a pair of fielder’s choices bringing in two more runs.

Ozmun singled to plate the 10th run of the game for the Golden Eagles but an 11th run was not forthcoming, allowing the game to go to the seventh.

A walk and a hit batsman set up Mann for a two-run double in the seventh while Transier and Ozmun singled to plate the final runs of the game.

North Miami could not find a way to solve Emery on the mound as the senior went the distance, striking out 11 along the way.

Hudson said the team battled well most of the day but ran out of steam in the end.

“We were pleased with how the team played for 12 innings,” Hudson said. “The Oak Hill game got out of hand late and it would have been nice to get Maconaquah in the first game.

“Our theme of the day, though, was leaving runners on base. We had 14 or 15 runners that we stranded in the first game, not because guys didn’t hit the ball but they hit it at someone and that happens in baseball.”

North Miami faced Tippecanoe Valley Monday and will travel to Southwood Wednesday to close out TRC play.

Hudson said the team was playing better in recent games, adding the team had a chance to build up momentum ahead of sectional play next week.

“From where we were a week-plus ago to now, we can see the players making improvements and see the guys want to be playing better going into sectionals,” Hudson said. “We have a great opportunity this week against Tippecanoe Valley, Southwood, Frontier and Caston to get wins this week.

“If the guys play well, they could get all four games and give themselves momentum going into sectionals.”