Purdy stops Piere City to advance in baseball tourney play
The semifinal game in the Class 2, District 12 baseball tournament that was hosted by Crane was anything but a pitcher's duel. Pierce City and Purdy, the second and third seeded teams, squared off.
The game was a marathon as far as high school baseball goes, lasting nearly three hours.
The game had a little bit of everything to offer fans. From offensive explosions to some salty defensive plays, with some dominant pitching sprinkled in at times, the game did not disappoint.
Purdy jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning and followed it up with another six runs in their half of the second. Coach Josh Hughes used a little small ball with some strategic bunting to start the inning, but the big blow came off the bat of Cameron Terry.
With the bases loaded, Terry hit a laser to deep right center for a bases clearing triple. Alex Mareth followed it up with a single to right to plate Terry.
Mareth stole second and was promptly knocked in by a Heath Burnside double. When Purdy's half of the second ended, they were up 9-0. After Purdy pitcher Mareth retired Pierce City in order on three consecutive strikeouts, the spectators wondered about a possible run-rule rout
The momentum switched just as quickly as Purdy went down in order in the top of the third. Pierce City's Colton Drollinger next led off with a walk to ignite a furious comeback, as Pierce scored seven runs to make it a ball game again.
Garron Cantrell knocked two of the runs in with a double to right center. The final run of the inning came on a well-executed suicide squeeze by Cody Fitchpatrick.
The bottom of the third ended with a loud out, coming off the bat of Colin Garner. Garner hit a frozen rope that Purdy's second baseman Robby Moody snatched out of the air to bring the carnage to an end.
Coach Hughes pointed to Moody's web gem as a key to reclaiming some of the lost momentum.
"That line drive that Moody caught gave us back some momentum," Hughes said. "When my guys came off the field after that play, they all were pumped up to use that play to drive our offense."
And use it they did. Purdy answered Pierce City with another crooked number. The Eagles scored three more runs in the top of the fourth, to extend their lead to 12-7.
Coach Hughes was quick to point out how good a job Keevin Walker did on the mound.
"Walker came in at a tough spot in the third and only allowed one run the rest of the game to pick up the win. That was huge for us," Hughes said.
Purdy's defense also stepped up behind Walker to thwart some Pierce City rallies in the fourth, sixth, and seventh innings.
In the seventh with the bases loaded, Pierce City's Kole Kelly hit a rocket at Cameron Terry, who caught it and stepped on first to seal the 15-8 victory for Purdy and send them to the district championship game against host Crane.
Offensive numbers for Purdy: Austin Hancock: 3-5 and 2 runs; Tyler Scott: 0-2 with 3 runs and 1 RBI; Terry: 3-4 with 3 runs and 4 RBI; Mareth: 2-5 with a double and 2 runs; Moody: 1-5 with 2 runs; Burnside: 1-3 with 1 RBI; Walker: 0-2 with 1 run and 1 RBI on a Sac Fly; Jared Smith: 0-3 with 1 run; Brent Cornman: 1-5 with a double, 1 run, and 2 RBI.