|Championship flag won’t fly in UC |
|Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2008 10:11 pm |
|The Kitty League Tournament championship flag will fly at a different park next season. |
Union City’s bid to repeat as tourney titleists of the tri-state wood bat circuit lasted just one game of this postseason, the Greyhounds eliminated 4-3 by Marion Monday night at Elam Stadium.
The Bobcats’ Mitch McClay drove in the deciding run with two outs in the ninth inning with his fourth hit of the night to bring an immediate end to UC’s season and reign as Kitty League Tournament champion.
The loss ends the ’Hounds 2008 campaign with a 26-25 record, while Marion (21-28) advances to face regular season champion Tradewater (35-15) in a best-of-three series starting tonight on the Pirates’ turf.
Second-place Fulton will travel tonight in the other semifinal series to Owensboro, a 6-2 victor over Farmington on Monday in the other first-round game.
Fulton will host Game 2 on Wednesday night.
The league championship round — also a best-of-three set — is slated to begin on Friday.
Union City’s season-long shortcoming — timely hitting — ended up being the culprit in the Greyhounds’ final defeat of the season.
The locals stranded eight runners on Monday and actually never scored an earned run, plating three tallies in the seventh only because of three Marion errors.
The Bobcats, meanwhile, scored all four of their runs via clutch two-out base knocks — none bigger, obviously, than McClay’s opposite-field safety to right in the ninth that chased home Jake Martin, who’d walked to lead off the frame.
“Usually, the team that gets the most two-out hits is the one that ends up winning close games when two good pitchers go at it,” Greyhound manager Jonathan Estes said after addressing his team one final time this summer. “You’ve got to take advantage of whatever opportunities you have. We didn’t, and they (Marion) did.
“Their guy shut us down for the most part, though. And I thought Drew (Hayes) did a good job for us, too.”
While it could be argued that Marion starter Joey Haston indeed had UC’s number with nine strikeouts and just six scattered hits allowed in seven frames, the Greyhounds also appeared listless with their bats much of the evening.
Only a double by Nate Coleman in the third and Justin Miller’s RBI hit in the seventh that tied the game at 3 could be termed as hard-hit balls as Union City actually loaded the bases prior to tying the contest without getting the ball out of the infield.
For his part, Hayes was solid, if not spectacular.
The former McKenzie prep standout and current Vanderbilt hurler ended up getting a no-decision after also toiling seven frames with three earned runs and nine hits allowed. He fanned seven.
The Bobcats played textbook fundamental baseball in scoring the difference-making tally, as Martin drew a walk off reliever Miles Scribner, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and then third on a ground ball before coming in on McClay’s line-drive single.
Marion led 3-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh after Lucas Cramsey, McClay and Adam Enlow slapped timely run-scoring singles in the first, third and seventh frames, respectively, before Union City rallied with the aid of some shoddy defense by the visitors.
Cam Strang reached on Scott Cashman’s error at shortstop to open the bottom of the seventh and Jon Ivie was hit by a pitch. Luke Putnam then laid a bunt down the third-base line that Haston fielded and promptly threw into rightfield in an attempt to retire Putnam at first.
Strang scored on the play and Ivie ended up at third and Putnam at second.
Coleman, who had two hits in the game, then lofted a sacrifice fly to right to make it 3-2 before Miller picked up Anthony Tomassitti, who’d fanned, with a RBI hit to left that tied the game at 3.
UC did not threaten the rest of the way, however.
Estes, the head coach at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, said the disappointment over the season-ending loss would not outweigh the positives from the season in his book.
“We took a lot of young guys who hadn’t had a lot of experience with their college team and gave them a great deal of playing time that I believe will benefit them next spring when they’re back in college,” the skipper said.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.