After being postponed for 24 hours, the Miami Trace Panthers were able to host the McClain Tigers in a Division II Sectional semifinal baseball game Tuesday at Miami Trace High School.
With lots of friendly, white clouds passing by overhead, the two Frontier Athletic Conference rivals battled for the third time this season.
The Tigers scored three runs in the top of the seventh to post a 6-3 victory.
McClain, now 11-10 overall, will play at Sheridan for a Sectional championship Thursday at 5 p.m.
Miami Trace ends the 2019 season with a record of 14-6.
The Tigers got the scoring underway in the top of the first with a single by Colton Mossbarger and a home run to right field by John Saylers.
For the Panthers in the bottom of the first, Connor Bucher walked and scored on a double to center by Drew Batson.
Miami Trace tied the game with another run in the bottom of the second.
Josh Gilmore led off with an infield hit and stole second.
As he attempted to steal third, the throw went into left field, allowing Gilmore to score.
Luke Henry walked and was bunted over to second by Austin Brown, but there was no further scoring in the inning.
The third and fourth innings were scoreless for both teams.
In the top of the fifth for the Tigers, Garrison Banks singled to center.
Wyatt Van Dyke bunted him over to second.
A wild pitch moved Banks to third from where he scored on a double by Mossbarger, who went 4 for 4 on the day.
It remained a 3-2 ball game until the Tigers batted in the seventh.
Van Dyke bunted and reached on an error.
Eric Anderson followed with a bunt for a hit.
Mossbarger singled, scoring Van Dyke.
Salyers drove in Anderson to make it 5-2 and Cody Pollock reached on a fielder’s choice that scored Mossbarger.
The next two batters were retired to leave the score 6-2, McClain.
Tyler Eggleton led off the seventh with a single for the Panthers.
Braden Cooper-Smith was sent in as a pinch-runner for Miami Trace.
After the first out was recorded, Bucher doubled with Cooper-Smith stopping at third.
After the second out, Cody Brightman hit a single to score Cooper-Smith.
Dalton Mayer walked and the next batter grounded out to end the game.
“It’s a great team win,” McClain head coach Richie Bunner said. “We played well. Sam pitched a great game.”
Sam Faulconer went the distance for the Tigers, over seven innings allowing three runs and seven hits. He walked three and struck out two for the win.
“Defensively, we showed up,” Bunner said. “We had some timely hits today. I preach to the kids a lot about timely hits. Those are the most important, when they count. Overall, it was just a great team win.”
What about facing the No. 9 team in the state in Division II, the Sheridan Generals?
“We’re going to go out and play with the same intensity that we had today,” Bunner said. “I told them before the game, ‘don’t leave anything on the field.’
“Miami Trace is a good team,” Bunner said. “We just showed up today and played an all-around great game.”
Austin Mathews started and suffered the loss for the Panthers.
He pitched six-plus innings with six runs on 11 hits. He struck out nine and walked one.
Austin Brown pitched one inning with no runs, no hits, no walks and two strikeouts.
“We had a chance to have a big inning there in the first,” Miami Trace head coach Rob Smith said. “We ran ourselves into two outs. In a tournament game, you can’t do that.
“Other times, we had runners on and didn’t produce,” Smith said. “It was still a 3-2 ball game in the seventh. They bunted two times in a row and we threw one of those away. That stuff happens.
“Their pitcher kept us off balance,” Smith said. “He’s beaten us both times. We went through a stretch, about three or four innings, we were out on our front foot, hitting pop ups.
“In the seventh, we got back to being patient,” Smith said. “We were swinging at our pitches and we had a threat there at the end.
“Our kids played really hard,” Smith said. “You have to give McClain credit. The difference I saw in them this year is, they have a lot of seniors and they have been through a lot. They field the ball very well, they got timely hitting and Faulconer, while not an overpowering pitcher, we struggled with him.”
The Panthers say thank you and good-bye to four seniors: Tyler Eggleton, Austin Brown, Austin Mathews and Drew Batson.
“That’s a class act of four seniors,” Smith said. “That’s the hardest part, saying good-bye to seniors in a spring sport. In the fall or winter, you can at least watch them play another sport and it’s not a final good-bye. I think our seniors, their last day of school is at the end of this week.
“They are four of the classiest kids,” Smith said. “I couldn’t ask for anything better out of a senior group, as far as class. All four of them will be very successful in life. They’re just good kids.”
Post season awards
Drew Batson, Austin Brown and Austin Mathews were named First Team, All-FAC. They will be among the student-athletes honored at the conference’s spring sports banquet Monday evening.
Mc 200 010 3 — 6 11 1
MT 110 000 1 — 3 7 1
Offensively for Miami Trace: Connor Bucher, 1-3, 2b, bb, sb, 1 run; Drew Batson, 1-3, 2b, rbi, bb, sb; Cody Brightman, 1-3, bb, rbi; Dalton Mayer, 0-3, bb; Josh Gilmore, 1-4, 2 sb, run; Luke Henry, 1-2, sb, bb; Austin Brown, 1-2, sb, sac; Tyler Eggleton, 1-3, run; Mason Snow, 0-3; Braden Cooper-Smith, 0-0, run.
Offensively for McClain: Eric Anderson, 1-4, run; Colton Mossbarger, 4-4, 2 runs, 2 rbi, 2b, sb; John Salyers, 3-4, 3 rbi, home run, run; Cody Pollock, 0-4; Evan Hutchinson, 1-4; Austin Booth, 0-3, sac; Sam Faulconer, 1-3; Preston Anderson, 0-1; Garrison Banks, 1-2, run; Wyatt Van Dyke, 0-3, run.