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Western, Hamilton Heights peg back Braves

- STAFF REPORT

Maconaquah’s baseball team dropped a pair of contests Thursday and Friday, falling to No. 3 Western 16-6 and Hamilton Heights 13-7.

Head coach Dustin Hays said the players battled well against a strong Western program Thursday night.

“Even though we hate to lose, we drew some positives out of the game with Western Thursday,” Hays said. “We were down early, fought back and brought it to within a run.

“We got guys on base and drove them in, playing toe-to-toe with them.”

The Braves kept both games close early on, despite trailing 6-0 early on to the Panthers.

Bryce Ward and Braxton Dewey plated the first two runs for the Braves and Ethan Larason cut the gap to 6-5 with a three-run home run.

The teams traded runs in the fourth inning but the game swung in the fifth after a full count walk with two out was followed by a three-run home run for Pat Mills as part of a six-run effort.

Mills had another home run in the seventh inning as Western moved to 4-0 with the win.

Despite the gap in the score, Hays said the team didn’t shy away from the challenge.

“We pitched six guys Thursday and played well in the field but Western swings it,” Hays noted. “We expected that and drew positives from the effort.”

Maconaquah fell behind 1-0 against Hamilton Heights Friday but rallied with four runs in the bottom half of the first inning with Larason again providing the fireworks with a three-run home run.

The problem for the Braves was that the team couldn’t keep the Huskies off the scoreboard.

Five runs in the fifth were answered by the hosts in the bottom of the second with Dewey plating two runners in the inning, tying the game at 6-6, but Hamilton Heights scored runs in every inning, often times with help from the Braves.

Hays said errors extended innings and allowed the Huskies to score runs they shouldn’t have otherwise gotten.

“We didn’t bring the same mentality from Thursday into Friday,” Hays said. “We had six errors along with Hamilton Heights hitting the ball well, a combination that allows teams to score a lot of runs.

“Often, if we have 10 hits and seven runs, we’ll win a lot of ballgames but we couldn’t finish off innings. It’s a learning lesson but at the same time, we’re tired of learning lessons and would rather teach some on the field.”

Hunter Hays hit a solo home run in the sixth inning but that was the final offense of the game for Maconaquah, who fell to 1-3 on the season.

The Braves travel to Mississinewa Monday with Hays warning that the team shouldn’t look at what the Indians did against Peru Thursday and expect similar things to happen.

“We have to have the right mentality going into the game,” Hays said. “The last two games, we’ve been hitting the ball extremely well and if we do the right things, we’ll score runs.

“We can’t worry about what Mississinewa did against Peru and base their performance on that game. We have to come out and perform.”