(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
CHARLESTON -- Bringing their record over the .500 mark for the season the Charleston Fighting Squirrels swept the visiting Tri-County Post 236 Legion team in a pair of five-inning contests Thursday evening.
After beating Tri-County 3-1 in the first game the Squirrels were force to rally late in the second contest to win 3-2.
"I thought we played well," Charleston's Cody Rice said. "We hit the ball really hard and we all backed each other up and made plays when we needed to."
Kicking off the evening the two teams battled to a tie score after two-and-a-half innings before the Squirrels would pull ahead.
In the bottom of the third, Marshal Stallings would bring home the go-ahead run with a single to right field scoring Rice from second after Rice doubled to start the inning.
Charleston would go on to add another two runs in the inning to take a 3-0 lead.
Though Tri-City would answer with a run in the top of the fourth, Post 236 wouldn't get any closer to the Squirrels as Charleston's pitching bore down to secure the 3-1 win.
Picking up the win, starter Trey Watkins recorded all but the final out of the game, going 4 2/3 inning allowing one run on three hits.
"I felt good," Watkins said. "The last couple of outings I've been getting roughed up, walking a lot.
"I just came in to this one and coach told me to relax and throw strikes. So I did and I had a good defense."
Thursday's second contest presented the Squirrels with a little more drama.
Coming into the top of the fourth tied with Post 236, the Squirrels saw Tri-County get the upper hand.
An error by Charleston's second baseman that allowed the lead runner to reach came back to haunt the team as that runner would eventually score on a fielder's choice from third.
With his team down by one in the fifth and final inning, Danny McKinney would lead-off the inning with a double to left.
Next to bat, Sam Johnson would lay down a bunt after which the fielder would over-throw first base allowing McKinney to score, tying the game and leaving Johnson on second.
After Jesse Schott singled to right with a bloop hit, leaving runners on first and third, Watkins was intentionally walked to load the bases with Tri-County looking for a double-play ball.
Unfortunately for Post 236 Cody Rice would put the game to rest, hitting a ball to center that was caught, allowing Johnson to tag and score from third, beating the throw to the plate.
"I was just trying to make a solid hit and hit it somewhere they couldn't get or get it in the outfield somewhere," Rice said. "I was just hoping they wouldn't make a good throw on it."
Pitching the last inning in relief, Johnson earned the win, retiring the only three batters he faced.
While he didn't earn the decision Bucher said he was glad to see starting pitcher Schott come in and pitch four solid innings.
"He's not used to being on the mound," Bucher said. "That's one thing we're trying to get him accustomed to again.
"We know he's going to throw well when he gets up there it's just a matter of getting him comfortable with being up on that hill and throwing strikes and trusting the defense that's behind them."
The two wins brings the Squirrels to 11-10 on the season to give them a winning record for the first time since early in the season.
They will look to keep things rolling when they take on Kennett in the Poplar Bluff Tournament today at 8:15 p.m.
|Tri-County||000 10 - 1|
|Charleston||003 0x - 3|
WP -- Trey Watkins. LP -- Jordan Fowler. SV -- Sam Johnson. 2B -- (C) Cody Rice.
|Tri-County||010 10 - 2|
|Charleston||010 02 - 3|
WP -- Sam Johnson. LP -- Cody Nesbitt. Multiple hitters -- (TC) Weston Jones 2-2; (C) Brandon Peters 2-2. 2B -- (TC) Taylor Cissell; (C) Peters, Danny McKinney.