MABEN – East Webster head baseball coach Wes Johnson knows his team can't afford too many performances like Tuesday night's against Hatley if the Wolverines are to hang around in Class 2A, Region 2.
Still, at least for a night, Johnson's squad was able to persevere as East Webster overcame six errors and an especially-messy seventh inning to down Hatley 11-9 in Cumberland.
"I'd just about rather play well and get beat as I had stumble around through it and win," said Johnson. "We hung on, but we sure made it a lot harder than it should have been."
The Wolverines (5-2, 1-1 in 2-2A) were able to survive thanks in large part to the production of Codie Silver.
Silver slammed a two-out, three-run home run in the first inning that plated himself, Hayden Hendrix and Conner Burton to give East Webster an early 3-0 lead, then added a two-run single later in the contest, ultimately finishing 2-for-3 with a walk and five RBIs.
Silver's offense highlighted a strong outing from the meat of the Wolverines' batting order as the second through fifth spots in the lineup consisting of Burton, Hayden Hendrix, Ty Hendrix, and Silver combined for seven total hits and nine runs scored.
It was a welcomed sight for Johnson who has seen his team be inconsistent at the plate at times so far this season.
"We've got some guys that have been hitting that aren't hitting right now and some guys that haven't been hitting that now are," said Johnson. "That's just what baseball is all about. We took advantage of baserunners in a couple of innings there, but some innings we didn't."
As it turned out, East Webster needed nearly every run they were able to muster.
After pitching six innings, eventual winning pitcher Ty Hendrix was pulled heading into the seventh as Jamie McKee took over sporting an 11-6 lead as he tried to record the final three outs for the Wolverines.
McKee surrendered back-to-back hits to Hatley's Tyler Bowling and Hunter Schrock to open the frame, then saw the third batter of the inning, Grant Hawkins, reach on a dropped third strike as the Tigers (3-2, 0-1 in 2-2A) attempted to climb back into the game.
"We had a chance there at the end," said Hatley head coach Mark Guntharp. "But we left way too many on base and had way too many errors ourselves."
Due in large part to his team's three errors in the frame, McKee surrendered three total runs in the seventh inning, but ended the contest by getting Josh Carlisle, who was representing the potential go-ahead run, to ground into a fielder's choice for the final out.
"It was a win," said Johnson. "That's about the best thing I can say about it."
With the victory under their belts, the Wolverines now must travel to Hatley on Friday for a rematch.
Johnson says his club has to get it together on Friday and the rest of the season if they intend to make any sort of playoff run.
"If we're going to be in the top three in this division, we've got to play better than we played (Tuesday)," said Johnson. "In this league that we're in, if you have a bad game, your chances of getting beat are pretty good. We've got to go (to Hatley) Friday and they are going to be ready to play."