Saturday, June 6, 2009

Bobcats break skid with 4-3 win

Marion (2-5) ended its five-game skid Saturday with a walk-off single by Andy Harris that scored Jake Martin in the bottom of the ninth.

It was textbook baseball from manager Steve Fowler that lead to the 4-3 win over Sikeston (4-3) at Gordon B. Guess Field, moving runners station to station and keeping them on the move for the hit-and-run.
In the ninth, it worked to perfection. With Martin on second after a leadoff walk and sacrifice bunt from Zach Sutton, Harris was able to bat in the winning run with bloop to short left over the third baseman's head. On the 1-2 pitch from Bulls hurler Corey Felts (0-1), Martin broke for third and with the jump was able to beat the throw at the plate from left fielder Ryan Modglin.
"Boy, that was nice," Fowler said of Harris' RBI. "He's the one that knocked in the winning runs in our other win."
That came on opening night, when Harris batted in three runs in the 10th at Tradewater to give Marion their only win prior to Saturday.
Martin's winning score was his second run of the night. In the third, when the Bobcats scored all their runs off starter Ryan Adams, Martin started the inning with a single and scored on a Drew Barrett double after swiping second base. Barrett and Harris, who added the third consecutive hit for Marion in the inning, would later score on a fielding and throwing error by Bulls second baseman Greg Casebier.
Marion tallied seven hits on the night and drew four walks. Harris had a multiple-hit night, going 2-for-4 with a walk. 
"The boys are starting to come alive," Fowler said, attributing Saturday's hit parade to extra work and batting practice the team undertook earlier in the day. "It made a difference."
On the basepaths, Harris, Martin, Daniel Pugh and Pat Murphy contributed stolen bases.
And, the defense was flawless. For the first time this year, no errors were committed by the Bobcats.
But two area where the team has struggled thus far remained. The Bobcats left nine runners stranded, bringing the season total to 67 in only seven games. And pitchers continue to struggle throwing strikes and getting ahead of hitters. 
"They make it interesting," Fowler said of his staff.
On the night, four Bobcats pitchers issued 10 bases on balls.
Saturday's starter for the Bobcats, Evan Vineyard (0-1), accounted for half of those in six innings of work. He also hit a batter and threw five wild pitches, one that allowed Sikeston's lead-off hitter to score in the first inning. His third wild pitch of the night gave Bulls catcher Gabe DeMarco third base in the third after a lead-off double, allowing him to score easily on a single by outfielder Blake Dirnberger, making the score 2-0 for the visiting team.
Marion added three runs in the bottom half of the inning and would hold the 3-2 lead until the ninth when Trey Smith, the fourth reliever to make an appearance for Fowler on the night, took the mound.
Smith walked two batters after notching the first out of the ninth and gave up a two-out single to DeMarco to erase what looked like would be Vineyard's first win of the season. Instead, Smith (1-0) earned his first victory when the Bobcats scored in the last of the ninth to finish the game.
Bobcat pitchers kept Sikeston's hitters baffled, striking out out 11. Vineyard contributed eight; Smith, two; and Ethan Utley, in his first appearance since being activated from injured reserve, whiffed one.
Sikeston's starter Adams pitched well through five innings, permitting four hits, and only one of his three runs allowed was earned. Felts pitched 3 1/3 innings, giving up three hits and the winning run.
It was a tough night behind the plate for both teams, with catchers chasing down a combined seven wild pitches and three passed balls. In the ninth, Marion's catcher, Drew Williams, took several minutes to recover from a sting left by a ball fouled straight back at him.
In other KIT League action: