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Warriors win marathon game in 15

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Warrior pitchers strike out 32

By Greg Woods

The Eminence Warriors’ baseball team got their first win of the season on Friday night when they hosted the Burgin Bulldogs but it wasn’t easy. Austin Jones settled down to strike out 17 batters after a rough first inning and relievers Travis Bell and Cole Lawson struck seven and nine respectively in extra innings as the Warriors came back three times to get the win.

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Burgin opened the game with four runs in the first inning on four hits and two walks but did not score another run against Jones who went seven innings. After the first inning Jones allowed only two hitters to reach base in the fifth inning.

Eminence chipped away at the lead with two runs in the bottom of the first. Jones led off with a double and Jalen Dixie singled him home. Dixie then stole second and third base before Mitchell Metten got a two-out single to drive him home.

The Warriors added a run in the third. Mitchell Golden walked with two outs. A.J. Shaw followed with a single to get Mitchell to third base and Metten came through with another RBI single.

The Warriors tied it up in the fourth when Bell led off with a single and stole second base. Andrew Coomes followed with an RBI single to make it a new game.

Neither team could push home a run in the final three innings of regulation and the game went to extra innings.

Burgin managed to scratch out a run in the top of the eighth to regain the lead. Their first batter of the inning singled and stole second base. He advanced to third on a wild pitch. Bell got the next two batters on strikeouts but the base runner scored on another wild pitch. After walking the fourth batter of the inning, Bell settled down and struck out the final batter.

The Warriors were once again down but not out. Metten led off the bottom of the eighth with a single and stole second base. He advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Travis Bell’s RBI groundout.

Bell and Lawson shut the Bulldogs down over the next six innings, allowing only one hit and two walks. But the Warriors couldn’t score either and it went to the 15th inning with game still knotted at 5-5.

Lawson ran into trouble when he walked the leadoff hitter to start the final inning. The runner then stole second and advance to third on a throwing error. The next batter singled home the leadoff batter before Lawson settled down to get the next three batters.

According to Coach Jay Virgin, Lawson came into the dugout and apologized for allowing the run.

“When he did that, about five different guys came up to him and said, ‘Don’t worry about it, we got this’, and I got goose bumps,” Virgin said. “You know what? I believed them.”

Lawson’s teammates did indeed have his back as the Warriors came back for the dramatic win.

Metten started the rally by drawing a walk and stealing second base. Freshman Cameron Mathis who had been hitless through 14 innings then delivered an RBI double to tie the game. Mathis advanced to third base on a groundout by Bell to give the Warriors the winning run 90 feet away with one out. Another freshman, Coomes, put the ball in play with a grounder that the pitcher snagged on the first base side of the mound. The pitcher gave a quick glance to third base and went to first for the out.

“I didn’t think they did a very good job of looking Cameron back so I sent him and it was very close but he got in under the tag to score the winning run,” Virgin said. “After that I just got out of the way because the kids went wild after that.”

After dropping a pair of district games to Carroll County and Gallatin County earlier in the week and falling to 0-8 the Warriors still found belief that they could pull off the win.

There were plenty of heroes in the win according to Virgin.

“I can’t say enough about what Metten did in this game,” Virgin said. “He caught fifteen innings and came up with big RBIs and runs scored. Andrew and Cameron came through with big plays and our pitching was great with 32 strikeouts. I felt good for Cole who had a couple of rough outings. He had control of his pitches and threw smoke all night. Austin striking out 17 batters is unbelievable and Bell did a good job as well. This was a total team win. Every single player contributed in some way to the win. Hopefully we can build on this.

“I don’t think at any point the kids ever thought they were going to lose,” Virgin continued. “The sixth inning is indicative of that. Their first batter reached on an error and Mettin threw him out trying to steal. Then we hit a batter and the next batter hit a very hard line drive that Jalen made a nice diving catch on to get us out of trouble. It was that way all night.Wwe made plays when we had to have them. I am very proud of them.”