Most nights, 11 runs on 15 hits would be more than enough. On a night when your team commits eight errors, you need a little more. In a game that summarized the season for the Malcolm senior legion baseball team, the boys from Malcolm came up short in a 10-inning thriller that found Elmwood-Murdock-Nehawka on top 13-11 at the end of the night.
“That’s how things have gone for us,” Malcolm head coach Doug Churchwell said. “On the nights our offense does what they need to do, our defense lets us down.
“When we get the pitching and defense we need, we don’t produce at the plate.”
Malcolm struck first in the July 7 home game when its first four batters reached base and three crossed the plate in the bottom of the first. By the end of the inning, Malcolm led 5-0 after sending 11 batters to the plate.
“We were feeling pretty good at that point,” Churchwell said. “But we knew we had a lot of game left.”
EMN wasted no time chipping away at the Malcolm lead as they would score five runs over the next three innings while Malcolm managed just two more runs. After four innings, Malcolm led 7-5.
After a scoreless fifth inning, EMN tied the game at 7-7 in the top of the sixth. Malcolm grabbed the lead back as a Beau Sackett single opened the door for a go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth.
Back-to-back errors in the top of the seventh allowed EMN to push the game to extra innings.
“It’s tough to win when you can’t make plays,” Churchwell said. “We had them beat, but we let them hang around.”
Another error would open the door for more runs for EMN in the top of the eighth as they opened up an 11-8 lead. Malcolm did not go down without a fight as Sackett hit a two-run blast in what was a three-run bottom of the eighth.The home run was his third of the season.
“Beau has a season of college ball under his belt,” Churchwell said. “We’re starting to see the difference that experience can make.”
A pair of singles would lead to a pair of runs for EMN in the top of the 10th. Malcolm went three-up-three-down in the bottom of the 10th to end the game.
Nate Kuhn went 5-for-6 with a run batted in. Sackett finished the night with three hits while driving in two runs. Jon Plautz added to the cause with two hits and three runs batted in.
The Malcolm junior legion team also struggled against EMN. Kobe Gansemer was in command on the mound as he went the distance while striking out 15 Malcolm batters and allowing just four hits in his 4-1 win.
“His stuff was working and we didn’t have any answers,” Churchwell said. “From what I’m hearing, he has shut down most of the teams he’s faced this year.”
Things went a whole lot better for the Malcolm juniors on July 5 when they welcomed Dwight. Three Malcolm players had multiple hits in a mercy rule-shortened game that saw Malcolm grab a 12-1 win.
Jacob Clarke had a productive night as he went for 2-for-3 while driving in three runs. Plautz had three RBIs while Connor Zegar went 2-for-3 and drove in a pair of runs.
“Our bats were hot that night,” Churchwell said. “That was a nice confidence boost kind of game.”
The Malcolm seniors are 4-12 with one game to go before the postseason. The Malcolm juniors enter the final week of the season at 6-4-1. Both teams were set to close regular season play with their home finale against Syracuse on Monday. The juniors open up area tournament play Friday afternoon in Yutan as the No. 2 seed. Malcolm will open with Dwight at 4 p.m.
“Our juniors have shown we can compete,” Churchwell said. “I like our chances to make a deep run in the tournament.”