The Mint Hill Junior Marines lost a hard fought game against McDowell Post 56 at Independence Stadium under the lights. The loss means Coach Dan Cooke’s fighting leathernecks have been eliminated from the state tournament in a one game elimination.
The marines jumped out to an early 3-0 lead but could not hold McDowell down in the later innings of the ball game. The marines let this one get away from them, however, they fought to the very last out with a runner on third with two outs in the eight inning of the extra inning ball game.
In the first inning Ryan Mangum led-off with a triple into the left center field gap, Bryson Jusko followed with an RBI double, after Jusko stole third base, Peyton Milleman grounded into a fielder’s choice scoring the runner from third, Brandon Moser reached on an error, he would steal second base, Connor Randall walked and Ben Hagan drilled a base hit to drive in the third run of the inning for the 3-0 Mint Hill lead.
The score remained 3-0 until the top of the fourth when Jonathon Todaro would give up a lead-off double, the runner would steal third and scored on a wild pitch with two outs to put McDowell on the scoreboard.
In the sixth inning McDowell scored 5 runs on 3 hits and 3 base on balls with the marines using three pitchers. The damage ended when new pitcher Ben Hagan who replaced Lucas Turner picked off the runner on second base for the final out of the inning giving McDowell a 6-3 advantage.
In the home sixth with one out and runners on the corners Lucas Turner hit a grounder to shortstop who made the force out at second base scoring Peyton Milleman who led-off with a walk to make the score 6-4 McDowell still in the lead.
In the bottom of the seventh the fighting leathernecks bounced back to tie the score at 6-6. Anthony Taylor was hit by a pitch, Mangum reached on an error by the second baseman, Jusko walked to load he bases, Peyton Milleman hit a hard ground ball to second base that looked like a tailor made double play, however, after getting the runner at second the shortstop threw wildly scoring the second run to tie the score. Taylor scored easily on the play from third and Mangum used his speed to score on the error. With two outs Connor Randall hit a tapper along the third base line and the pitcher made a nice play to just nip Randall at first base by a toe to extend the game into extra innings.
In the top of eight with the bases loaded and two outs Coach Cooke pulled Hagan in favor of Connor Randall the big right hander to get the final out. Unfortunately, Randall walked the batter on four pitches of which two were very tight calls by the umpire hearing some noise from the hometown fans behind home plate to score the go ahead run. The next batter hit a routine ground ball to second baseman Lucas Turner for the final out.
In the home eight down 7-6, Ben Hagan walked, Turner laid down a nice sacrifice bunt moving Hagan to second with one out. After a strike out for the second out, the pitcher would throw a wild pitch with Anthony Taylor at bat, with the runner now only 90 feet from home on a 3-2 count Taylor would take a third strike to end the game on a blazing fast ball on the black outside corner of the plate ending the season for the marines.