There’s nothing like playing a heated rival to bring out your very best.
The Madison-Plains baseball team entered its match-up at London Monday, April 14, winless and need of a confidence boost. The Golden Eagles had played teams close here early in the season, held leads in half of their games, but had been unable to make the necessary plays down the stretch to secure victory.
That all ended in emphatic fashion as the visiting Eagles (1-7) got big hits when they needed them and solid pitching to score a rewarding 6-3 victory.
“It feels good to get any win,” Plains’ coach Zach Durban said. “After a slow start and giving away a couple games that we would like to have back, this one feels great. I know our players enjoyed the victory.”
The game was tied 1-1 in the top of the third inning when the Golden Eagles’ got a game-changing hit from catcher Matt Jeffers.
He came to the plate for his second at-bat against London starter Garrett King with a runner on base. He promptly jumped all over a fastball and deposited the ball beyond the fence in left center, for a two-run home run and a 3-1 Plains lead.
“Matt is the kind of hitter that has the potential to not only set a tone for a game, but also rip a game wide open,” Durban said. “He did that for us (Monday). Matt is a talented hitter who doesn’t require much coaching at the plate. If he has a bad at-bat or puts a bad swing on the ball, he is self-correcting. He’s a smart hitter and knows what needs to be done. His home run certainly gave us an emotional lift.”
London (3-5) scored a run in the home half of the fourth to get to within a run, but Plains answered with a run in the fifth, as well as one each in the sixth and seventh. Getting a lead and holding it has been an issue for Plains this season, but not in this game.
“Scoring early is very important in high school baseball,” the coach said. “The problem we’ve ran into this year is not being able to back it up. We sometimes will get an early run and then kind of disappear offensively. Tonight, our kids did a great job of keeping their foot on the gas pedal and staying aggressive at the plate.
“We talked as a team after the game. I told our players that (Monday) was a ‘growing’ game. We were in situations against London that we’d already been in this year. Previously, we had found different ways to lose those games. Our guys showed the mental focus and physical toughness to not make those same mistakes and it paid off for us. We know that with a young team like ours that it is important to continue to grow and learn from not just our success but our failures as well.”
As for getting the first win of the season against the Red Raiders, that was special too.
“Any time you play a county team you always want to perform well,” Durban said. “Our boys know this and so does London. It doesn’t matter if it’s a game of checkers, when our two schools compete there is always a little something extra for both sides. I am proud of how our kids competed, showed class, and got their first win.”
Hunter Butin got the win for Plains, while King suffered the loss for London.
River Valley 2,
Jonathan Alder 0
The Pioneers (6-1, 2-1) suffered their first loss of the season Monday, April 14 on a day when they just couldn’t get anything going offensively.
Alder had just two hits in the game and Tanner Gaerke was saddled with the loss despite allowing just a single run in the first and third inning.
The Flames (0-6) were held without a hit in falling in this run-rule shortened contest Monday, April 14. With the win Elgin improved to 7-0 on the season.
The host Red Raiders (5-5, 3-1 in MSL Ohio) scored a pair of runs in the first inning of their showdown with Madison-Plains Monday, April 14, but never plated another in the 11-2 defeat.
The Golden Eagles (5-2, 3-1) won their fifth straight game on the strength of late game timely hitting and poor defensively play by the Raiders. Plains scored four runs in the fourth, another in the fifth and five more in the seventh in the win, many of those runs were aided by a total of eight London errors.
Madison-Plains High School starting pitcher Courtney Davis allowed the two runs early and then shut the home team down the rest of the way. Lauren Miller started and took the loss for the Red Raiders.
Offensively Plains was led by Tori Bevington (two hits), Liza Watson (three hits) and Shelby Puckett (triple and three RBI).
Jonathan Alder 10,
River Valley 9
The Pioneers (9-1, 5-0) scored 10 runs in the first four innings of their MOAC Red Division contest with visiting River Valley (6-2, 1-2) and then held on for dear life in a 10-9 squeaker Monday, April 14.
Alder (16) and River Valley (15) combined for 31 hits in the game. Mady Watson got the win inside the pitching circle.
Chris Miles can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 18 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.