JUNIOR LEGION BASEBALL: Marshall holds off late rally, beats Worthington 11-5 to start district playoffs
MARSHALL — The Marshall Junior Legion baseball team was tough to stop during the regular season, rolling to a record of 18-4-2. Getting the top seed in the district playoffs, Marshall Black looked to carry that momentum into its opening game on Wednesday against eighth-seeded Worthington and did just that, scoring seven runs in the first two innings en route to an 11-5 victory at Legion Field.
Marshall coach Chace Pollock credited Worthington for continuing to pressure them despite the early deficit but felt his team did a good job of hitting the ball hard and running the bases well.
“I thought we ran the bases well and we hit the ball hard and played well,” Pollock said. “Give Worthington a lot of credit, they came out too and battled us; they were down 7-0 and came back with the five runs in the fifth inning and that was impressive on their end, but I’m happy with the way we played.”
Marshall jumped out to a quick start, as Zach Leibfried and Tyler Maeyaert connected on back-to-back singles to plate a run. After Jon Gruhot drew a walk, Ezra Maurice brought in another run on a sacrifice fly before Parker Schmitt reached on an error to make it 3-0 after one.
Worthington had a strong opportunity to get on the board in the next half-inning, using a single, error and walk to load the bases with one out, but Marshall starter Ashton Rowe got out of the jam with a strikeout and a flyout. The red-hot offense continued for Marshall in its next at-bat, with Talan Plante drawing a leadoff walk and Lincoln Graven connecting on a double before Maeyaert got hit by a pitch to load the bases. Gruhot then lined a two-run double before Maurice reached on an error and a wild pitch pushed Marshall’s advantage to 7-0 after two.
Neither team found scoring over the next couple of innings, but Worthington continued to fight and got on the board in the top of the fifth after a walk, a hit batter and an RBI single. They then added four more runs on an RBI double, an RBI single, a wild pitch and an error to draw to within just two at 7-5.
But that was the closest Worthington got, as Marshall pieced together some timely hitting in the bottom of the sixth. Graven led things off in strong fashion, belting a drive to the left-field fence for an inside-the-park home run before Gruhot connected on a single and Maurice brought in a run on a sacrifice fly. Marshall wasn’t done there, though, with Andrew Wallen and Schmitt driving in two more runs with base hits to bring it to the 11-5 final.
Gruhot led Marshall with two hits and two RBI while Maeyaert and Graven each had two hits and an RBI, Schmitt had a hit and two RBI, Wallen had a hit and an RBI, Leibfried had a hit and Maurice had three RBI.
Pollock said their ability to show some resiliency late was a good teaching moment for their team.
“For us to come back there in the sixth inning, it was good. We had to refocus and this was a good learning experience for our guys,” Pollock said. “You’re up 7-0, you can’t coast, you have to keep working and we’re fortunate to escape with a win and we can teach off of that. Hopefully next time we’re better when we’re up early in a game or have a lead like that.”
Rowe earned the victory on the mound, going four innings while allowing no runs on four hits and struck out four.
Marshall (19-4-2) will face fourth-seeded Alexandria Red today at 10 a.m. at Legion Field in the next round of the tournament.