FARMINGTON – Effective hitting toward the opposite field ignited another explosive first inning by the Farmington baseball team in its summer finale on Thursday.
The Knights withstood a gradual comeback push by visiting North County to prevail 8-6 and sweep a two-game exhibition series between the longtime MAAA rivals.
Blane Worley and Tyler Thebeau each finished 3-for-4, and combined for six of the 10 Farmington hits after routing the Raiders 14-2 on Tuesday in Bonne Terre.
The unofficial contests were agreed upon in response to a lost season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The rematch proved to be far more competitive.
A leadoff single by middle infielder Will Dugal brought up the potential tying run in the seventh, but Thebeau used a sidearm delivery to cap a two-inning save with back-to-back strikeouts.
Winning pitcher Jacob Jarvis handled a normal workload of 96 pitches, and fanned six while yielding seven hits and one walk over five innings. Three of his five runs allowed were earned.
Shortstop Karter Kekec paced North County by going 3-for-4 with two runs scored, and opened the action with a double that was briefly misjudged in left field.
Dugal followed with an RBI single that cleared the infield on a tricky high bounce. Farmington catcher Ryan Cooper caught him stealing ahead of two Jarvis strikeouts.
The Knights responded with six tallies in the home half of the first as 10 men stepped to the plate. A leadoff walk to Reilly Resinger signaled early trouble for right-hander Isaac Easter.
Jarvis, Worley and Thebeau had ensuing RBI singles for a 3-1 advantage. Coltin Wilkerson and Tyler Hampton widened the margin with singles of their own before an error brought in another run.
Easter settled down to roll through the next two frames – helped by an excellent play in the hole by Kekec during the third – and North County steadily began to climb back.
The visitors capitalized on three Farmington errors in the top of the fourth, and executed a delayed double steal as Shelby Lee swiped second base and Devin Seastrand beat the next throw home.
Farmington countered with an RBI single from Worley to restore a 7-3 lead in the home half after Resinger doubled past a charging right fielder.
Kekec singled and scored when a hit by Jobe Smith skipped away in the outfield, and Lee ended his 2-for-3 game with a leadoff triple that ended Jarvis’ outing in the sixth.
After Ethan Forney made it 7-5 with a sacrifice fly, Easter walked, stole second and came home on a fielding error as a sharp ground ball glanced off Worley.
Thebeau averted further damage with a one-run edge as substitute catcher Max McKinney cut down Kekec on an attempted steal for the third out.
Farmington picked up an insurance run as Worley crossed on a wild pitch after moving to third on a Thebeau double that twisting center fielder Layton Mallow could not squeeze.
Seastrand worked three innings of relief for North County, and struck out two while surrendering one run on three hits and three walks.
Dugal went 2-for-4 overall, and catcher Clayton Chandler threw out a runner stealing. Several of the Raiders have participated in a limited Babe Ruth League schedule prior to this week.
Farmington players recognized retiring assistant coach Col. Randy Sparks before the opening pitch, presenting him with an autographed ball.