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Braves, Tigers open MCC with wins over Oak Hill, North Miami

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

In effect, the second game of the Miami County Classic came down to a single inning of play.

Oak Hill notched a run in the top of the first two innings, only for a six-run burst from Maconaquah in the bottom of the  second to short-circuit the Golden Eagles thereafter as the Braves advanced to the championship game 7-2.

Maconaquah head coach Dustin Hays said quick adjustments made after the first inning made a world of difference for the offense.

“Oak Hill had a lefty (Isaiah Shields) throwing and before the second inning, we told the kids we need to make adjustments at the plate,” Hays said. “We told them to move up on the plate and up in the box.

“The kids listened, did what they were supposed to do and the timely hits helped us get those six runs in.”

Landry Ozmun started the game by being plunked by the third pitch though he did not make it to second as Matthew Hershberger grounded into a fielder’s choice and was safe at first.

Nate Alston and Gerard Creech followed with singles, the latter plating Hershberger for a 1-0 lead.

Will Haley reached on a one-out error in the top of the second and moved to third on Kody Dubois’s single.

Ozmun hit into a fielder’s choice to plate Haley but that would be the only run for Oak Hill in the inning despite later loading the bases.

A 2-0 lead looked good at the time but by the end of the inning, it was instead a four run deficit staring the Golden Eagles in the eye.

Shields got through the first inning relatively cleanly but the Braves ensured that would not be the case again.

Carter Little started the inning with a single, moving to second on an error, while Kolson Silcox reached on a fielder’s choice.

Shields got a pop out but Levi Richardson singled to plate a run to cut the deficit to 2-1.

Chase Haney reached on an error and Cody Koebler singled to tie the game at 2-2.

Caleb Winegardner plated two with a single as Maconaquah went aggressive on the base paths, setting up Hunter Hays and Zac Snyder to plate runs with singles to make the score 6-2.

Shields was lifted for Danny Nally, who gave up the Snyder single, but got two quick outs to finally end the threat.

Nally would only allow one more run in the game, a Hays RBI single in the fourth, keeping the Braves in check for the remainder of the contest.

Haney, on the mound for Maconaquah, made sure the lead stood, only allowing one runner to reach second base after the second inning when Evan Pearce reached the bag on an error in the third.

“Throughout the season, if we ever get a lead we have a tendency to get a little complacent but we didn’t do that today,” Hays noted on the team’s play after the second inning. “Chase pitched a heck of a first game and anytime Oak Hill got runners on, they didn’t get any momentum behind them.

“We tacked on an extra run and Chase got on with the rest of the game. He kept them off balance with off-speed pitches for strikes and we played good defense behind him.” 

Peru 8, North Miami 1

The opening game of the Miami County Classic saw a pair of four run innings be enough for hosts Peru with head coach Chuck Brimbury noting both teams were up for it with more than just a spot in the championship game on the line.

“It was a tournament atmosphere this morning as we played North Miami in a county and TRC game,” Brimbury said. “(North Miami head coach Troy) Hudson does a good job with his kids but we got great games from Kade (Townsend) pitching and Jacob (Loftus) behind the dish. 

“Coach (Rob) Hileman goes a good job with the team on hitting as Daunte (Majors) had three hits, Chase (Tyler) had two hits, several others had a hit and we had good bats all day. Coach (Jody) Beauchamp has our pitchers throwing tons of strikes as Kade had 11 Ks and two walks, which was important as coach Hudson and his kids battled.”

A pitcher’s duel appeared to be on the horizon as the first 15 batters of the game were sat down in order between the combination of Peru’s Townsend and North Miami’s Nate Musselman.

Tyler would break up the monotony with a double to lead off the bottom of the third inning, moving to third on Isaiah Reese’s sac bunt.

Jonah Huppenthal drew a walk, setting up Majors for a RBI double to put the Tigers on the board 1-0.

Townsend followed with a two-run single before stealing second and scoring on a Blake Edwards single for a 4-0 advantage.

Edwards would reach third on a Payton Honn single but Honn was caught trying to stealing and an infield pop-up ended the inning.

“Chase’s double in the gap loosened us up,” Brimbury said on the start of the third inning. “Coach (Josh) Donathan is a former All-State player for us, so he knows how to call pitches and Musselman had us a little off center.

“Coach Hileman pulled off first base a couple of weeks ago and helped our guys make adjustments as the game went on. Coach talked to them about what to do and we started to hit the gaps, get bunts down, got a comfortable lead behind Kade and when we do that, we’ll win most of those games.”

The Warriors pulled a run back in the top of the fourth as Jackson Green reached on and scored on an error.

With the bases loaded, however, North Miami could not force another run in after Townsend induced a short groundout to end the threat.

Peru responded quickly as Tyler singled, Reese walked and Huppenthal put down a sac bunt that saw all three runners reach safely.

Majors plated the first two runs with a single while a throwing error led to another run coming in.

Townsend would add the final run of the game on a groundout to give the hosts an 8-1 lead, one that would not be troubled as Townsend scattered a double, walk and hit batsman over the final three innings of play.