Jun. 16—SHORT GAP, W.Va. — Brock Troy pitched the final out before Mother Nature suspended the game on Monday, and he got the final nine outs on Tuesday as North Marion defeated Frankfort, 6-4, to take Game 1 of the Class AA Region I championship best-of-3 series.
“They’re a good team,” North Marion head coach Vic Seccuro said of Frankfort. “You’ve just got to play hard, and we did that. We made a few mistakes here and there, but it’s the old saying ‘we bent a little bit, but didn’t break.’ So I’m real proud of that. The kids deserve credit for that. They played hard, hung in there against a pretty good and well-coached Frankfort team.”
Troy pitched the final 3 1/3 of the contest, yielding five hits with just one walk after starting pitcher Cole Malnick got into trouble in the fourth. Malnick went 3 2/3 with three hits allowed and five walks, four of which came in the fourth.
“Cole had a great outing yesterday,” said Seccuro. “The only thing that hurt was that one inning, we got the catcher’s interference, we had to go back out there and finish (the inning). I think he was a little upset there. We had to go back out onto the field and we walked four batters there, it put them right back in the game. That hurt a little bit.
“Brock’s a senior. Brock’s got to do what he’s supposed to do — he’s got to come in and finish it up for us. He did that and I’m really proud of him.”
Frankfort, meanwhile, had three fielding errors that come back to cost the Falcons, with half of the Huskies’ runs coming off a pair of those errors.
“Give them credit, they hit the ball well,” Frankfort head coach Matt Miller said. “They hit-and-run a few times. We made a mental error on a bunt that we don’t make — that’s uncharacteristic. Other than that, baseball happens and errors happen, but you can’t have that many and win a baseball game.”
Logan Kinser led the eight-hit Falcons, going 2 for 2 with a walk out of the 9-hole.
“Logan grinds. We’ve been working really hard,” said Miller. “He’s been unlucky this year. He’s hit some balls hard. And his batting average isn’t great, but that doesn’t matter to me — it’s how you hit. He’s hit some balls hard right at people. Today and yesterday, he hit two balls that got through the infield because he hit them hard, and yesterday he had a four-pitch walk, good at-bat there. So, yeah, I really can’t ask for much more out of Logan. He’s done a really good job the past two days.”
When the game resumed at the start of the top of the fifth on Tuesday, Parker Kincell got the Huskies’ offense going with a leadoff single as they looked to extend their 5-3 lead.
After a walk and a fielder’s choice, Jace Rinehart laced a ball to the right side that caused an error and allowed a run to score. The runner on first got overanxious after rounding third, and Frankfort third baseman Ben Nestor threw home to Peyton Clark to nab the runner and end the inning.
The Falcons worked some two-out magic in the bottom half of the inning, with Tyler White getting a two-out infield single. With a 3-2 count and White in motion on the pitch, Colton McTaggart ripped the ball down the left-field line for an RBI single, getting Frankfort back within two, 6-4.
After Falcons reliever Andrew Lynch got a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth, Frankfort was unable to capitalize in the bottom half after Kinser led off with a single and Lynch hit a one-out single to left. Troy got a fielder’s choice and a pop fly up the elevator shaft to the catcher to end the frame.
After North Marion threatened, but ultimately didn’t score, in the seventh, Troy got a fly out to second to end the game after a two-out, two-strike single by Andy Westfall.
The Huskies got to Frankfort starting pitcher Brady Whitacre on Monday, loading the bases in three of the four innings played prior to the suspension.
After Dylan Runner led off the game with a walk, he moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and took third on a passed ball before scoring on an RBI single by Rinehart.
A walk was the only blemish on Whitacre’s name in the second inning, as North Marion led 1-0 entering the third.
Rinehart led off with a walk and Nikholas Tobin put runners at the corners with a hit-and-run single — Tobin finished 3 for 4. Troy drove in Rinehart from third on a flare to center field to double the Huskies’ lead.
Still with no outs, Michael Harris squared to bunt to move both runners into scoring position, but ended up with a bunt single to load the bases after no one covered first base.
The very next batter, Bryce Rhoades, ripped a bouncer hard to the left side, but an error allowed the ball to get through and two runs to come in for a 4-0 North Marion lead.
The Falcons cut into the deficit in the next half inning, however, as Kinser and Whitacre hit back-to-back singles — Kinser advanced to third on the hit and Whitacre moved to second on the throw to third.
With one out, Andrew Lynch hit a sacrifice fly to make it 4-1. Whitacre was stranded on second when a strong throw to first barely beat Peyton Clark to the bag to end the inning.
After Malnick singled, Rinehart walked and Tobin singled to load the bases with no outs in the fourth, Troy hit a sac fly to left to push the Huskies’ edge back to four, 5-1.
Whitacre worked out of trouble with a fly out to shallow center — Westfall’s throw home kept Rinehart at third base — and a strikeout.
Patience paid off for the Falcons in the home half of the fourth, with Nestor and McTaggart drawing walks before a catcher’s interference call with two outs loaded the bases and extended the inning.
Kinser drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 5-2 and, after being down 0-2 in the count, Whitacre drew a base-on-balls following a 10-pitch at-bat to make it a two-run ballgame and force Malnick, a sophomore, out of the game.
Malnick threw 41 of his 84 total pitches in the inning before Troy, who entered the game in relief, got a groundout to end the inning and limit the damage.
The game was delayed before North Marion stepped up to bat in the fifth after thunder could be heard above the field. Continued lightning strikes forced the suspension of the contest.
“We still have to be careful because this team is tricky and they can get you right there,” said Seccuro, whose Huskies will host Game 2 today at 5 p.m. “And they did, they took advantage and got the outs. And that hurts you when you’re trying to get a little bit of a lead on them, you’re trying to get comfortable. We couldn’t do that this game — we couldn’t get comfortable with them.”
Although the Falcons (12-11) face an uphill battle, it’s territory they’ve been in before.
“We’ve been here before,” said Miller. “Three years ago against Weir, we dropped the first game, came back and won 9-1 and 11-1, so it’s not foreign to us.”
Game 3, if necessary, will be played on Thursday, 5 p.m., at Frankfort.
Kyle Bennett is a sports reporter for the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @KyleBennettCTN.