(Brent Shipman, Staff)
"We played well enough to win," New Madrid County head coach Kevin Lyons said. "You take a couple of errors away here or there away and (maybe we pull it out). But they also gave us a few as well."
The Quake headed into the bottom of the sixth holding a slim 4-3 lead thanks to an RBI single from Hunter in the top of the frame that pushed in the go ahead run.
After Post 226 started their half of the inning with three straight hits, however, New Madrid County surrendered the tying run on an infield error. Hits by Dylan Howard and Steven Tow, both with the bases still loaded, left Elsberry with a 6-4 advantage heading into the seventh.
An initial fly out in the top of the seventh left the Quakes only two outs from defeat, New Madrid County hitters were able to draw three straight walks to put the tying run on second with one out.
A sacrifice fly from Gabe Smith closed the Quake back to within a run before another single packed the bases and left the tying run only 90-feet from the plate.
Unfortunately for the Quakes, their next hitter drew a 2-0 county before allowing Elsberry reliever Dylan Howard to catch back up and get a called third strike to end the game.
"I thought we had a chance," Lyons said. "Everything was looking good and we had our hottest hitter of the day (Ivie) at the plate."
Before Post 226 went ahead for good in the sixth, the two squad continued traded runs in the fourth and fifth innings. New Madrid County put up the first run of the contest in the top of the fourth only to see their opponent come back and tie things in the home half of the inning.
Back up in the fifth, the Quakes took their biggest lead of the night, at 3-1, when Tim Clayton doubled in a pair of runs. An RBI double from Tow and an runner scoring on a dropped third strike in the bottom of the fifth caught Post 226 back up to a 3-3 tie.
"Every time they put one on the board we had to answer back with one," Elsberry coach Joe Pott said.
In earning the win Post 226 starter Tow went 6 1/3 innings. He allowed seven hits and four walks without collecting a strikeout. With one out and a runner on first in the sixth with Dylan Howard came in to take his place and close things out.
"He was getting tired," Pott said of Tow. "He got up in the mid-80's (in the pitch count) and he's one of them pitcher that does a good job, but 70 to 85 pitches is about his max and he was getting there."
Though he allowed the Quakes to load the bases, Howard secured the final two outs while allowing a hit and two walks while collecting Post 226's only strikeout.
"He's been doing a pretty good job of doing that for us all year," Pott said. He came in and usually he's a little sharper. he was little off tonight, but he found it when we needed it."
Outhitting the Quakes 10-8, Elsberry was led by Tow, who went 3 for 4 with a double and two runs driven in. Howard added another two hits to Post 226's cause.
For New Madrid County Tim Clayton was 2 for 3 with a double, two RBI and a run scored. Ivie added contributed another two hits while scoring and driving in a run.
On the loss Lyons said, "We haven't been in this situation very many times. We're still growing as a group. We have a lot of seniors and those types of mistakes we have to fix before the state tournament. That's why we're here."
New Madrid 000 121 1 - 5
Elsberry 000 123 x - 6
WP -- Steven Tow. LP -- Chris Pavy. SV -- Dylan Howard. Multiple hitters: (E) Dylan Howard 2-4, Steven Tow 3-4; (N) Tim Clayton 2-3, Hunter Ivie 2-4. 2B -- (E) Tow; (N) Clayton.