By R. Alan Richardson
The Diamond Dogs capped off another perfect week by taking a three-game series over Franklin County. Morgan got the wins on Tuesday 6-5 and in Friday’s doubleheader 9-4 in the opener and 7-4 in the finale. Tuesday’s contest may have been one of the greatest comebacks ever seen in MOCO history and could have catapulted the Dogs into the weekend wins. More on that later.
Coach Merritt Ainslie talked about the week, “We had a good week at the plate and on the mound, but it was a week in which our defense was below what we expect from our guys. Our pitchers are dominating for the most part on the mound. We get ourselves in trouble with a few miscues that seem to compound things. A walk and a hit batter followed by errors in the field seems to be our Achilles heel right now. In Tuesday’s game when Franklin scored five runs in the second inning, it came after an inside the park homerun when Tristan (Stapp) and Jacob (Anderson) collided in right field. That in itself was a scary situation and we’re thankful that Tristan’s injury was not as bad as it could have been (concussion). After that we lost our focus a little and allowed a poorly covered bunt situation, a mental error with the bases loaded, two errors, and walks or hit batters to give them four more runs. We can’t do that against good teams.”
The Dogs did put themselves into a little better situation in the fifth when they scored two runs to make things 5-2. It was in the bottom of the seventh that the Dogs pulled off the Miracle Comeback of the Century. Franklin had to pull their All-Region pitcher in that inning due to his pitch count. The Lions’ pitcher got two quick outs and it looked like the Dogs were dead and gone. Suddenly, the reliever lost all control and successively walked Hunter Lane, Ethan Stamps, and Blake Silvey to load the bases. Anderson then sent a slow roller in the five-six hole for an infield hit that the shortstop had no play on. With the score now 5-3, it was up to junior Brandyn Batchelor for some heroics. With the count at 0-2, he laced a liner to left centerfield that found the gap and rolled to the fence. His walkoff hit cleared the bases and gave the Dogs a 6-5 win for the ages. Batchelor was immediately dog piled in centerfield as MOCO celebrated the win in grand fashion. The looks on the Franklin players told the story. Ainslie commented, “It was one of those games where you were glad to be on the winning side and not in the other dugout.”
In the words of Ainslie, “Friday we hit the mess of out of the ball.” That’s one way of putting it. The hitters lit up the Lions’ pitching staff for 24 hits in the two games that included three long balls. Stamps took two pitches deep and Jaron Ferguson another to lead the offense. “Everybody had a hit over the two games and some had four or five including Seth Robertson, Dominic Arienzo, and Silvey. We’ve really needed more of the guys to contribute at the plate. We’re still trying to put complete games together where base running, hitting, pitching, and defense all come together and everybody plays well. We still allowed runs from walks, hit batsmen, and errors in the same inning. There were maybe five of those runs that were earned. We just need to eliminate those little blips that seem to be coming in one or two innings each series,” noted the head coach.
Morgan will now play three more Region series to round out the season. This coming week they will face a scrappy Jackson County team to be followed by Spring Week where only two non-region games with Archer are on the schedule. The final two weeks of Region play will include series with East Jackson and Jefferson.