Athletic directors at the Class 5A level have proven to be the most invested in controlling their own playoff destiny since a switch to the...
CENTRAL POINT — For those baseball pitchers looking for a break in the lineup, Crater proved once again on Thursday night that no such favors will be given this season.
Taking full advantage of its deep squad, the Comets secured their fifth straight victory and an undefeated run in the Crater Spring Break Classic with a 12-2, five-inning victory over Marist at Anhorn Field.
While the top of the order typically is where most teams make the most noise, the bottom half of Crater's lineup was rowdy and ready for the team's fifth game in six days. The Comets' Nos. 6-9 hitters combined to go 6-for-11 with five runs and nine RBIs.
"We've been hitting the ball well throughout the lineup," said Crater head coach Jay Campbell, whose team moved to 6-1 overall. "We've actually moved some guys and tried new lineups and it's been the same. It doesn't surprise me. I think one through nine, any of those kids can get it done."
Junior designated hitter Taylor Tibbets paved the way by going 2-for-3 with two runs and four RBIs in the sixth spot. His two-run single in the third inning put the Comets ahead for good, and he added a sharp two-run double down the left-field line one inning later.
Crater's No. 7 hitter, junior catcher Tyler Aplin, was 2-for-2 with a triple and a double to go with two runs and one RBI. In the eighth spot, senior second baseman Taylor Pardee going 1-for-3 with one run and two RBIs. At No. 9, junior right fielder Tanner Ryerson was 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
After scoring 10 runs over the third and fourth innings, the Comets closed the game by virtue of the 10-run mercy rule when leadoff batter Paul Turner reached on an error, moved to third on walks to Evan Erskine and Ty Fox and scored with two outs when Blake Fahndrich was hit by a pitch on an 0-2 count.
As anticlimactic as the ending was, Marist (3-5) tried to put a scare in the host Comets with a two-run third inning that gave the Spartans a short-lived, 2-1 advantage under rainy conditions. Dustyn Smith supplied a sacrifice fly for one of the runs, while Cameron Jack stole third and then came into score when Aplin's throw glanced off the glove of third baseman Lane Ullom and wasn't retrieved in time for a play at the plate.
Marist starter Grant Wonham managed to get the first two outs of the third inning, but the Comets simply wouldn't be denied after that as the next seven batters reached safely.
"That's what we're capable of doing if we just have a good approach at the plate," said Campbell of the six-run outburst. "The kids are working hard and they did a lot of work out here this week on the field so I think we were a little sluggish there to start, but they responded well. We gave up a couple runs and they kinda came back out and showed that wasn't going to fly for very long."