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Maconaquah sets up winner-take-all with Wabash

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ARMS RACE: Maconaquah pitcher Cody Koebler kept Whitko’s bats silent for the majority of Monday night’s TRC baseball game, helping the Braves to a 14-2 win to set up a winner-take-all conference finale at Wabash Wednesday. Koebler gave up two runs and three hits while walking two, hitting one batter and striking out 11.
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CAMP OUT: Maconaquah centerfielder Hunter Hays sits underneath a fly ball that would be the last action of the game as the Braves handled Whitko 14-2. Hays had five RBIs in the game, including a three-run home run in the victory.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

The simple task for Maconaquah’s baseball team this week was completed in five innings Monday night.

Now the task at hand for the Braves is to win a TRC baseball title Wednesday.

Whitko provided a brief period of opposition before Maconaquah swept the Wildcats aside with a 10-run fourth inning to win 14-2.

Braves head coach Dustin Hays said the team was able to shake off a sluggish performance Saturday to put themselves in position for a conference title.

“We talked after Saturday about having something to play for and we had to refocus for this game,” Hays said. “We’re in control of what we can get.

“We started off slow in the first inning but in the second inning, we hit the ball well with a couple of home runs and scored a lot of runs in the fourth. We got timely hits with guys on base and it felt good to get this first win of the week.”

After a scoreless first inning, Maconaquah was on the board with four runs in the second inning via a pair of long balls.

Aaron Sedwick led off the inning with a walk and Tyler Firkus singled to bring up Hunter Hays, who hit his third home run of the season to give the hosts a 3-0 lead.

Two batters later, Cole Alspaugh hit a solo home run to give the Braves a 4-0 lead.

Whitko responded in the top of the third inning by loading the bases with back-to-back hits from River West and Evan Wilson and an error that allowed Austin Hollowell to reach safely.

Mason Lehman hit a two-out double to plate two runs before Cody Koebler got a punch out to end the inning.

Despite holding the lead, Hays said the team looked like it might let the visitors hang around.

“We scored four but we didn’t shut them down and they got two runs back,” Hays noted. “We didn’t want to give them the momentum and we were able to get it back later.”

It was the only threat the Wildcats managed to produce during the game as Koebler fanned 11 batters on the evening. Maconaquah put the hammer down in the fourth inning, sending 14 batters to the plate.

Braxton Dewey opened the inning with a walk, moving over on a Garrett Glassburn sac bunt.

Alspaugh reached on an error and Koebler knocked in the first run of the inning with a single.

Zac Snyder was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Ethan Larason doubled to plate two runs.

Sedwick was safe on a fielder’s choice that brought in a run while Firkus walked to reload the bases.

Hays plated two more runs with a single and Dewey drove in a run with a  double. Glassburn hit a sac fly that plated a run before Alspaugh tripled home the ninth run of the inning.

Koebler finished the scoring spree with a single and closed out the game in the top of the fifth inning.

Hays said the team had the timely hitting it missed for most of the past week and did very well to push runners in.

“We hit the ball hard today and (Whitko) made a couple of mistakes that flustered them,” Hays said. “We were 6-for-6 with runners on third base tonight, which is a great stat that you want to have.”

With Wabash losing to Manchester Monday night, the TRC baseball title will be decided on the final day of conference play.

Hays said the if the team could do what it had done in seven of the eight conference games this season, it had a very good chance of being the TRC champs by the end of night Wednesday.

“We want to portray to the guys that the pressure is on Wabash,” Hays said. “They’ve already lost this week at home and the pressure rests on them to bounce back.

“Two of the better pitchers in the TRC will go against each other. I’ll put Ethan up against anybody and I’m sure (Kory) Fuller will throw for them.

“We have to come there aggressive, drive strikes, move runners over, put our trust in Ethan and we’ll see what happens.”

At Maconaquah

Whitko 002 00 — 2 2 1

Maconaquah 040 (10)X — 14 10 1

WP — Koebler (4-2) 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, HBP, 11 K

LP — Neer

2B — Dewey, Larason

3B — Alspaugh

HR — Hays (3), Alspaugh (1)

RBI — Hays (5), Koebler (2), Alspaugh (2), Larason (2), Sedwick, Glassburn, Dewey

Next Game: Maconaquah (14-8, 7-1 TRC) travels to Wabash (16-8, 7-1 TRC) for the TRC Baseball title game Wednesday at 6 p.m.