The McCracken County Mustangs grabbed their 25th win this season on Tuesday night with a pair of senior arms on the mound. The 6-3 victory over the hosting St. Mary Vikings pushed the McCracken County program to 3-0 in the Second District.
The night started with senior Cameron Willis on the bump for McCracken County. The right-handed hurler worked four innings, allowing five hits, three runs (earned), walking one, and striking out three.
For St. Mary, Luke Heath worked the mound for four innings, allowing five hits, three runs (earned), walking one, and striking out three. Heath kept the Mustangs scoreless with a one-run lead until the top of the third inning.
The Vikings jumped on the board first during the bottom of the second inning when Landre Smiles legged out a triple to right field. McCracken County’s Weston Miller threw the ball to get Smiles out, but an error by the Mustang infield allowed the Viking to score, making it 1-0.
Willis, however, ended the inning and the Viking rally as Jack Muiter flew out for the third out. The flyout stranded Brandon Quigley at first base.
The Mustangs (25-6) did not hesitate to tie the game during the visiting half of the third inning. Sophomore Caleb Ehling kicked off the inning with a single to first base. Ehling’s speed beat out first baseman Landon Durbin as Durbin slid into first, attempting to get the McCracken County first baseman out.
Ehling stole second base during sophomore Jude Farley’s time at the plate. Farley, however, was the first out in the inning as he flew out to right field. The next batter, Miller, knocked out a single to left field, allowing Ehling to score from second base, making it a 1-1 ballgame.
Senior Dylan Riley drew a walk before sophomore Miller Green flew out to center field. On the flyout, Miller advanced to third base after tagging up. Jack Bennett ended the inning with two out and two on with a strikeout swinging as Heath squeaked out of the inning without further damage.
McCracken County gained a two-run lead in the top of the fourth inning as Cooper Ford tripled to right field, scoring Eli James. The next batter, Ehling, singled on a line drive and advanced on an outfield error as Ford scored to make it 3-1.
However, the Vikings (13-7) weren’t giving in to their opponent during the bottom half of the inning. The Vikings quickly tied the game at 3-3 as Smiles singled to left field, allowing Durbin and Jackson Willett to score. The following two batters went down on a pop out and a strikeout by Willis to end the inning and the Viking threat.
The Vikings and Mustangs went with relievers in the fifth inning as Muiter and Ford appeared on the mound for their respective schools. Muiter worked a three batter inning in the top half, inducing a pop out from Riley and back-to-back flyouts from Green and Bennett.
Ford and his crafty mechanics arrived on the bump for the Mustangs, striking out Zack Krueger on four pitches. However, a pop fly by Cade Fleming and miscommunication in the infield allowed Fleming to reach second base on an error by McCracken County.
Fleming advanced to third base on a wild pitch before Brett Haas lined out into a double play. The double play was complete as Riley’s quick hands tossed the ball to Bennett at third base as Fleming could not safely make it back to the bag to end the inning.
McCracken County gained a three-run lead in the top of the sixth innings with a leadoff double by Nate Lang. An RBI double by James allowed Lang to score and break the tie between the two Second District teams. A third double came as Ford scorched one to right field with perfect placement, allowing James to score from second base and giving the team a 5-3 lead.
Scout Moffatt came in as a courtesy runner for Ford, standing at second base as Ehling bunted into a sacrifice. The sacrifice, which was a close call at first base, allowed Moffatt to move to third base. Farley then pushed the game to 6-3 with a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Moffatt.
Ford and Muiter finished the game, keeping their opposing teams from scoring despite multiple opportunities. The final at-bat for Bennett nearly left the St. Mary field, but a web gem by Avry Duncan left Bennett stunned as he rounded first base and the St. Mary fanbase cheering.
The win went to Ford, who worked three innings on 36 pitches. The senior allowed one hit and struck out one while facing 10 batters.
Muiter took the loss for St. Mary in three innings. The senior allowed three hits and three runs (earned) on 34 pitches while facing 12 batters.
McCracken County will face Paducah Tilghman on Wednesday at Brooks Stadium. The winner will clinch the Second District, while the team that suffers the loss will face St. Mary in the first round of the postseason.
McCracken County 6, St. Mary 3
McCracken County 0 0 1 2 0 3 0 — 6-8-2
St. Mary 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 — 3-6-1
WP: C Ford; LP: J Muiter
2B: MCHS — C Ford, E James, N Lang
3B: SM — L Smiles; MCHS — C Ford
TB: SM — L Smiles 4, A Duncan 1, B Quigley 1, J Willett 1, Z Krueger 1; MCHS — C Ford 5, E James 3, N Lang 2, C Ehling 2, W Miller 1
HBP: SM — L Durbin; MCHS — E James
SF: MCHS — J Farley
SB: SM — L Smiles; MCHS — C Ehling, D Riley, W Miller
E: SM — C Fleming; MCHS — D Riley, C Ford
RECORD: McCracken County (25-6); St. Mary (13-7)