A task that seemed simple – get three outs before the opposition scores three runs – turned out to be too tall for the youthful Glenbrook Apaches.
Tuesday at Apache Field, Glenbrook blew a 4-1 lead in the top of the seventh inning to drop game one of a three-game series 5-4 to Wayne Academy.
New pitch count rules, some errant throws and a few timely hits by the visitors put the Apaches on the losing end of a game they had control of for 6.1 innings.
Now, Glenbrook (18-11) will have to win both games Thursday in Waynesboro, Mississippi, if they wish to keep the dream alive.
“We left 10 runners on base,” Glenbrook head coach Greg Clark said. “We didn’t execute at the plate today and that’s why we’re in this predicament. We can climb out though, we’ve done it before.”
The Apaches scored all four of their runs in the second inning, courtesy a two-RBI double from Cameron Barnett, RBI singles from Nick Mourad and Peyton Wells and an error.
Mourad was dealing against the feisty lineup of Wayne Academy, but pitches he usually makes for strikeouts were turning into foul balls instead.
Still, Mourad (6.1 IP, 6 H, 5 K, 2 ER) worked out of every tough spot he put himself in, allowing Glenbrook to keep the lead, but all the while his pitch count soared.
Wayne’s persistence at the plate finally paid off when Mourad hit the MAIS’s pitch limit (110) in the top of the seventh with two outs separating Glenbrook from a 1-0 series lead.
Glenbrook head coach Greg Clark brought on Cade Clemons who walked the only batter he faced. Brandon Merritt, Glenbrook’s likely starter in game two, was brought in next, but Wayne went to work on the tall lefty, scoring on two big hits and an error to erase the three-run lead and stun the Apaches.
“We had chances to put the game away early and we didn’t finish the game strong,” Clark said. “We know what we did wrong. I told the guys don’t worry about it.”
The game featured plenty of drama, as Wayne Academy had a player ejected for lowering his shoulder football style against Glenbrook’s catcher, Barnett, in a rundown. Dugouts emptied, but order was restored before any altercation.
“It was really uncalled for,” Clark said. “We had already had a play earlier where they spiked our shortstop a little high, but then that play; that was uncalled for. Cameron is a tough kid. He put a paper towel in his mouth for the blood and went back in the game.”
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