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Maconaquah wins Miami County Classic over Peru

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RIGHT THERE: Peru freshman Andrew Beebout pitched a strong six innings Saturday afternoon, only allowing three hits and one earned run during the championship game of the Miami County Classic against Maconaquah, a game the Tigers lost late 5-3 to the Braves.
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CHAMPIONS: Maconaquah scored three runs in the sixth inning of the championship game of the Miami County Classic to take the title home with a 5-3 win over Peru Saturday. The Braves reached the championship game with a 7-2 win over Oak Hill and won the title for the first time in 11 years.
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WHIP: Maconaquah’s Caleb Winegardner (L) fires across to first base with starting pitcher Cody Koebler (C) and second baseman Chase Haney (R) watching on during the championship game of the Miami County Classic. Koebler and Haney combined to pitch two complete games while Winegardner had two RBI against Oak Hill and four total put outs Saturday.

BY TRENT SCOTT - tscott@perutribune.com

For a fleeting moment, there was concern that a fly ball headed towards Levi Richardson in right field was going to drop in play.

If it had, Peru would have been given an extra life in the championship game of the Miami County Classic but Richardson made the catch and with it, Maconaquah claimed the title with a 5-3 win.

Braves head coach Dustin Hays said it was a fine way to finish off Saturday’s slate of baseball.

“It’s extremely nice to pick up this championship,” Hays said. “It’s been 11 years since Maconaquah last won this title and while we’ve been close a couple times before, we just couldn’t get all the way there.

“I’m happy for the seniors and happy than in my last year coaching I picked up that title. (Peru head coach Chuck) Brimbury was complementary of our players and while I know he hates to lose a game like this, he was happy for us today.”

Much like the first meeting between the two teams earlier this week, Peru got off on the right foot as Daunte Majors and Kade Townsend reached on errors and both scored on a Michael Chandler single to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

“Michael is playing well for us right now,” Peru head coach Chuck Brimbury said on the junior replicating his feat from the first game. “He got those first two runs home for us on Tuesday and again today.

“We had a frosh on the mound in Andrew Beebout as, with 4 TRC games and a county championship, while we’d like to go No. 1-2, No. 1-2, we’re not allowed to do, that but he pitched well and Michael’s knock just about held up today,.”

The hosts, playing as visitors on the scoreboard, added a third run in the top of the third as Majors led off with a single, stole second, moved to third on a Townsend groundout and scored on a Blake Edwards single for a 3-0 advantage.

As light drizzle gave way to a more consistent rain, Maconaquah found a response in the bottom half of the inning as Jared Blake reached on an error, Chase Haney singled and both runners moved up a bag on a wild pitch.

Cody Koebler hit a deep sac fly to score Blake but a shallow fly ball and a groundout allowed Beebout to get out of the inning with only the one run conceded.

“We had to get a run across,” Hays said about the situation in the third inning. “We could have scored another run in that inning as with our No. 2 and 3 batters coming up, we could have gotten it to 3-2 but we got it there eventually.”

The Braves added a another run in the fourth as Zac Snyder reached on an error and a throwing error allowed pinch runner Dalton Farnell to reach third base.

Kolson Silcox swung and missed on strike three but the ball was dropped and Farnell would score on the play, trimming the gap to 3-2.

Koebler, meanwhile, settled into a nice pattern, striking out five of six batters in the fifth and sixth innings to keep Peru from adding runs.

The big inning came in the bottom of the sixth as Hunter Hays reached on an error, Snyder reached on a fielder’s choice and Carter Little plated both runners with a double to give the visitors a 4-3 lead.

Richardson would tack on an insurance run with a sac fly to score Little, giving the Braves a 5-3 lead heading into the seventh.

A pair of groundouts left the Tigers little room to maneuver but an Isaiah Reese single with two outs brought back up the top of the order.

Majors hit a ball to Richardson that the right fielder had some difficulty tracking down but was able to make the catch to end the game and win the county title for the Braves.

Hays was relieved to see Richardson make the play but also commended the infield for making good plays on the ground balls beforehand.

“Caleb (Winegardner) made a heck of a play on a slow roller in the top of the seventh,” Hays said. “He could have easily slipped on the field or let the ball slip out of his hand, the runners would have been safe and who knows what happens from there.

“The kids focused and concentrated on the ball, which was huge for us. Levi recovered after his first step, squeezed the ball and won us the game.”

Brimbury said the players were game against Koebler but didn’t quite have the same success they had a few days prior.

“Our guys were working really hard at the plate,” Brimbury said. “(Koebler) slipped some good ones in and we had to battle because he had two or three really good breaking pitches.

“Andrew pitched well enough to win today. We made some errors and our kids take full responsibility for them.

“We give credit to coach Hays and the Braves as they got runs they needed in the sixth,” Brimbury added. “We were up 3-0, playing well and we know errors are going to happen but the kids’ effort and attitude was there, they played their butts off and we’re proud of them.”

Brimbury also wanted to thank those that helped put on the Miami County Classic and their efforts throughout the day.

“We have a lot of people to thank as it takes a lot of people to host a county tournament,” Brimbury noted. “I want to thank my wife Michelle along with the Peru Bengal Backers and the parents for their help and assistance.

“We appreciate those people stepping up to make this a great day for the kids.”

Peru saw its Monday game with Southwood pushed back to Friday due to persistent rain over the weekend and will jump back into play Wednesday at Northfield.

With the right combination of results, the Tigers could still be in the TRC title race and Brimbury said the players were still focused in on getting a share of the championship.

“We’re still in play and the kids are aware of it,” Brimbury said. “We played in a sectional atmosphere against North Miami as it was a county and TRC game, the coaches have the kids swinging the bats and throwing strikes and the kids are improving.

“We’re a team right now capable of beating a lot of good teams as we haven’t played our best baseball yet. We’ll have pitchers ready to go this week and we’ll keep coming after it.”

Maconaquah also saw its Monday conference game at Whitko pushed back to Tuesday.

While the team was in a similar spot to the Tigers in terms of the TRC, with three conference games to play Hays said the team had to be zeroed in on their own performance rather than watching scoreboards elsewhere.

“We’ve got to take care of our own business,” Hays said. “We can’t lose focus and drop on of these games if we want a shot at the conference title.

“There could be a serious logjam at the top but we can’t count on others for that. We have to be focused on each game next week and win every ball game if we want to have a chance.”