|Twisters buried by early outburst |
An early hole ultimately proved too deep for Union City to climb out of.
Union City’s Ben Woods makes a throw to get an out during the Twisters’ season-ending loss Monday.
McKenzie scored five times in the second and fought off a couple of Tornado rallies in UC’s season-ending 9-6 loss in the Region 7A Tournament semifinals Monday night at Elam Stadium.
The defeat winds up Union City’s 2008 campaign — one that saw the Twisters win the District 14A Tournament championship after a 1-8-1 start to the season — with a 16-15-1 record.
McKenzie (24-9), meanwhile, advances to the regional championship game against District 13 brethren Huntingdon on Wednesday and also locked up a spot in Friday’s sectionals.
The visiting Rebels pieced together five hits — including three doubles — off UC ace righthander Craig Lowrance to take command of Monday’s game in the early-going. McKenzie eventually scored in every inning but the first and the sixth and took advantage of three Union City errors to plate five unearned tallies.
The Tornadoes battled to the bitter end, though, putting up two-spots in the third, fourth and fifth frames and getting as close as 8-6 at one point before coming up short in their rally attempt.
“When you get to this level, momentum is everything and McKenzie seized that early with the big lead,” UC head coach David Barker said following the contest. “They got a couple of well-placed hits, then a couple of duck-snorts there, too, when they tacked on a couple of runs when we’d made it close. We made a couple of mistakes that left the door open for them to add on some unearned runs and, if not for them, it could’ve been a 6-4 or 6-5 ballgame in our favor.
“I did think it was a very valiant effort by our guys to come back. We battled them until the end, and I believe that showed the character that this team had.”
Drew Brown knocked in a pair of runs with one of the Rebels’ aforementioned two-base hits in the second, while Tyler Reeder also had a RBI with a double.
Parker Jones, who had another of McKenzie’s seven doubles in the game, came home on Tyler Holt’s single in the third to make it 6-0 before the locals broke through in the bottom of the inning.
Colton Speed was hit by a pitch with two outs and came home on an error after Ben Woods had singled, with Lowrance then doubling home Woods to cut the gap to 6-2.
Taylor Bruff gave UC added hope with a two-out, two-run single in the fourth that brought in Will Townes and pinch-runner Tyler Steward and made it 7-4.
The Tornadoes’ comeback picked up even more momentum after UC closed to within 8-6 in the fifth. Lowrance walked with one out before Jacob Worley jacked a deep fly ball to right center that Rebel centerfielder Kyle Kirk couldn’t hold onto after a diving catch attempt.
Though Lowrance was nearly passed at second base by Worley while waiting to see if Kirk had made a sprawling grab, the Union City baserunner recovered to circle the bases after a wild throw home left the plate unattended.
Worley, who was credited with a double on the play and moved up a base via the error, then alertly dashed home on Will Townes’ comebacker to Jones.
McKenzie tacked on an insurance run in the seventh, though, while the Twisters could manage only an infield hit by pinch-hitter Chase Hamlin in their final two at-bats.
“I’d certainly like to commend our seniors and their leadership,” Barker added while alluding to the efforts of Bruff, Lowrance, Townes, Hamlin and Ben Woods. “They did a great job of holding us together when we were struggling early and our record wasn’t what people thought it out to be.
“Craig Lowrance and Taylor Bruff were our captains, and they’re especially to be commended.”
Bruff and Townes finished with two hits apiece in Union City’s eight-hit attack Monday.
Lowrance was tagged with his only loss in four decisions this spring, giving four earned runs and 12 hits while fanning six.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.