DRAFFENVILLE - About five weeks ago, McCracken County senior Austin Mourad couldn't play through the pain in his left wrist anymore. He took a pitch off the joint, which had already felt sore, and sprained it the next day. Rest was the only way to heal.
"It got me off my timing, got my hands casting out and babying my swing," Mourad said. "I wasn't able to put what I wanted into it. I had to take the time off."
The Mustangs scored a strong 6.5 runs per game without their No. 2 hitter. But since his three-week absence ended, they've averaged seven runs, including Monday evening's 7-1 road win against Marshall County, which entered with the third-best record in the First Region.
Mourad, who went 2 for 3 with an RBI and two runs scored, has provided depth to their lineup.
"He's really getting some good at-bats, feeling his way through, starting to show what he's capable of doing," Mustangs coach Geno Miller said. "It's just huge to have Austin out there and for him to have that production, that gap-to-gap production. It's a huge asset to our lineup."
The Mustangs offense showed how well it could perform in building a first-inning lead against the Marshals (18-7). After Daniel Seitzinger and Mourad reached base, Nathan Williams produced an RBI double and Ryan Garner a two-run double.
Just four batters in, the Mustangs led 3-0.
That would be enough for starter Keegan Breese, who won after allowing one earned run over three innings. His lone blemish was a first-inning solo home run to Marshals starting pitcher Austin Johnson, who allowed five runs (four earned) over four-plus innings to take the loss.
The Mustangs scored their final three runs with two outs.
"I think in high school baseball, hitters try to do too much in certain counts and certain situations," Miller said. "We had some real nice approaches with two outs. Any time you can extend your lead in high school baseball, it's big for you."
The victory sends the Mustangs (22-7) into today's 6 p.m. game against St. Mary on a positive note. A sweep by either team - the two also play Friday - would give it the Second District title and a guaranteed berth in the First Region tournament.
The Vikings are coming off a five-error loss Saturday against Paintsville in the All A Classic state tournament. Vikings coach Matt Smith said Saturday that his team would spend Monday working on the fundamentals and would be ready for the two games.
Miller also believes his team needs to be prepared.
"It's just going to be a dogfight," he said. "We know if we don't play our 'A' game, we don't have a chance. We're going to have to take advantage of every opportunity."
McCracken County 400 101 1 7 10 1
Marshall County 100 000 0 1 4 4
Breese, Moffatt (4), Williams (7) and Rogers; Johnson, Forsythe (5), Bright (7) and Schneider.
WP: Breese; LP: Johnson.
2B: McC-Mourad (2), Williams, Garner, Womack. 3B: none. HR: MaC-Johnson. Top hitters: McC-Mourad 2-3 (RBI), Williams 2-4 (2 RBIs), Garner 2-3 (2 RBIs); MaC-Jaco 2-3.
Call Daniel Paulling, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8662, or follow on Twitter @DanielPaulling.
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