Humphrey's blast sets stage for Purdy Eagles
Purdy baseball coach: 'We control our destiny'
Coaches often tell their players to be ready when the time comes.
Joshua Hughes, Purdy baseball skipper, is no different.
The Eagles travel to Southwest today (Wednesday) to face a Trojan squad that, like Purdy, is also undefeated in conference play.
The Eagles are playing with renewed confidence. During a back-and-forth battle with McAuley Catholic, Hughes encouraged his players by saying the game showed the team is getting better.
Adam Humphrey broke a 6-6 tie to open the seventh inning with a blast over the 308 sign in left field. The run proved to be the difference in a 7-6 victory.
"It was a great game, a game we needed to be in," Hughes said. "These boys faced two solid Warrior pitchers and never gave up or gave in."
With a young roster, the Eagles (10-4) had yet to prevail in a tight game against a tough opponent this season. That changed on Tuesday.
Originally slated as a road game, McAuley agreed to travel to Purdy after its home field was deemed unplayable.
The Eagles struck for a pair of runs in the first and built a 6-3 lead heading into the sixth inning.
The Warriors rallied with three tallies in the sixth and would have had more if not for two diving infield stops, including one that held the go-ahead runner at third, and another to end the frame.
"As a coach, it is easy to nitpick and point out what we did wrong," Hughes said. "But, we did several things tonight that either saved a run or ended a rally. They don't necessarily show up in the box score, but they tell me the boys are believing in their ability and are getting better."
Humphrey led off the seventh and looked at a pitch inside. On the second pitch of the at-bat, he crushed another inside pitch over the left field wall for his first career home run.
"I was just looking for a hit to get on base," Humphrey said. "I just timed the pitch and hit it hard."
Humphrey said he could not decide which felt better -- hitting the round tripper or getting mobbed by his teammates at home plate.
In the bottom of the seventh, McAuley led off the inning with a double, then swiped third base to put the tying run in scoring position with zero outs.
Forced to pull the infield in, the next batter hit a shoe-string looper. Short stop Hunter Cook snagged the ball and flipped to Humphrey at third to complete a six-five double play.
"I think our defense has been our strength all season," Humphrey said. "Coach [Hughes] tells us all the time to be ready to make a play, and the ball just found its way to me in the seventh. Today was a team win."
Purdy has three conference games remaining against Exeter, Wheaton and Southwest, and the Eagles and Trojans are the only remaining undefeated teams in Ozark 7 Conference play.
"We control our destiny," Hughes said. "The conference race boils down to how bad we want it. We have three tough games left [in conference play], and we know that those teams aren't just going to roll over and give us the games. I'm proud of the ways our guys are coming along."