PADUCAH, KY – The North County Raiders enjoyed a solid weekend of baseball at the McCracken County Wooden Bat Tournament in western Kentucky, winning three of their four games against formidable competition in less than 24 hours.
After posting wins over Lone Oak, Kentucky and Clarksville, Tennessee on Friday, the Raiders shifted to St. Mary High School in Paducah on Saturday, defeating the host school in extra innings before being dominated by a powerful club from Marion, Illinois .
North County 6, St. Mary 4
The Raiders’ opening contest against St. Mary took on two distinct personalities. What began as a well-executed, rapidly-played game quickly turned into an unpredictable episode filled with timely hits and crucial miscues.
North County rallied to take the lead in the seventh inning against the St. Mary bullpen after failing to register a hit against starter Eric Roof. The Vikings fought back with three unearned runs in the home half of the seventh to force extra frames, but North County picked up two tallies in the ninth to escape with a 6-4 win.
Roof retired the first 16 hitters he faced and was working on a no-hitter with six strikeouts through six innings, but was removed from the mound in a surprising move after North County scored an unearned run to tie the game at 1-1.
Sophomore Tyler Beers gave the Raiders a strong start as well, but did not factor in the decision. Beers fanned nine batters through six and two-thirds innings while allowing just one earned run on five hits.
“Their pitcher was perfect against us for the first five innings, and Tyler (Beers) matched him pitch for pitch,” said North County coach Kyle Yount. “He kept the ball down and made big pitches when he had to.”
St. Mary (2-4) opened the scoring with a run in the fourth inning. Roof drew a lead-off walk and raced home on a long RBI double to left-center field by Gabriel Shaw.
After hitting just three balls out of the infield through five innings, North County used a series of bunts to ignite its offense. Pinch-hitter Chad Moss became the Raiders’ first base-runner when his sixth-inning bunt was thrown away. A hit batsman and a walk loaded the bases with one out for Lance Eftink, who executed a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to score Moss with the evening run.
The Raiders surged ahead against reliever Shane Carico in the seventh. Nick Eckl lined a lead-off single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Nick Hulsey, which was misplayed for an error. A hit batsman loaded the bases, and Eckl scored the go-ahead run after being hit by an errant throw on a fielder’s choice. Both clubs committed four errors in the game.
Another successful squeeze bunt by Matt Thompson brought home the second run of the inning, and Dan Harris increased the North County advantage to 4-1 with a sacrifice fly.
A pivotal error in the bottom of the seventh helped the Vikings mount a stunning comeback. A double to left field by Jonathan Roof put runners at second and third with two out for Sam Howard, who atoned for three straight strikeouts with a big two-run single up the middle to make it 4-3.
Wes Foshee took the mound in relief and loaded the bases with an intentional walk, but then walked Martin Worth to force home the tying run. The junior left-hander answered back with a clutch strikeout to send the game into the eighth.
Back-to-back doubles with two outs by Foshee and Harris put the Raiders on top to stay. An error by the shortstop allowed Harris to score an insurance run to produce the final score.
Foshee tossed a perfect ninth to earn the win with three strikeouts over two and two-thirds innings.
Marion (IL) 12, North County 2
The Raiders saw their chance at a perfect weekend quickly go by the wayside after being thoroughly defeated 12-2 in five innings by the Marion Wildcats.
Marion (11-2) hammered out nine extra-base hits while scoring six runs in both the first and fourth innings to take control of the game.
A North County error opened the floodgates for the Wildcats in the first inning. Andrew Soldner slammed a RBI to left-center field, then scored on a single by Thomas Graham to make the score 2-0.
Adam Cadle launched another long triple to send home another run before Andrew Dunn, Logan Patton and Andrew Bowlby connected for three straight doubles to cap the eventful inning.
North County cut its deficit to 6-2 when C.J. Peterson drilled a two-run single to center in the third. Peterson and Ryan Blankenship were each 2-for-2 at the plate for the Raiders.
Marion put the game away on the strength of seven straight hits in the fourth. RBI doubles by Graham and Cadle widened the gap to 9-2 before Patton highlighted the outburst by crushing a two-run homer to left.
Six Wildcats finished the contest with two hits each with both Graham and Patton collecting three RBI along the way. Foshee started the game and took the loss for North County.
Despite the loss to close out the tournament, Coach Yount was happy with his team’s effort over the two-day event.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with this team. We held down a couple of really strong teams here, and our pitchers were throwing well. Everybody contributed to the success.”
North County (8-2) will host Jackson on Monday before traveling to Farmington on Tuesday for an MAAA Large-School showdown.
North County – 000 001 302 – 6 4 4
St. Mary – 000 100 300 – 4 5 4
Hitting – Harris, Peterson, Eckl, Foshee. 2b – Harris, Foshee.
Pitching – Beers 6 2/3i 4r 1er 5h 9k 3bb, Foshee (W) 2 1/3i 0r 0h 3k 2bb.
Hitting – Worth 2, Shaw, J Roof, Howard. 2b – J Roof, Shaw.
Pitching – E Roof 6i 1r 0er 5k 1bb 1hp, Carico 1i 3r 0er 1h 0k 1bb 1hp, Shaw 1i 0r 1h 2k 0bb, Worth (L) 1i 2r 1er 2h 0k 0bb.
North County – 002 00 – 2 5 1
Marion – 600 6x – 12 13 1
Hitting – Peterson 2, Blankenship 2, Eckl.
Pitching – Foshee (L) 1i 6r 4er 6h 1k 0bb, Moss 2 2/3i 6r 6h 1k 0bb, Burt 1/3i 0r 1h 0k 0bb.
Marion – Soldner 2, Graham 2, Cadle 2, Dunn 2, Patton 2, Bowlby 2, Finn. 2b – Graham, Cadle, Dunn, Finn, Patton, Bowlby. 3b – Soldner, Cadle. HR – Patton.
Pitching – Dunn (W) 5i 2r 5h 1k 0bb 1hp.