One inning can often change the trajectory of a baseball game, and that inning was the fifth on Friday night as Sonoraville hosted North Murray in a region matchup.
The Mountaineers put three runs on the board thanks to some clutch hitting with runners on in the top of the fifth while Sonoraville was unable to fully capitalize on their scoring chance in the bottom half of the frame, and that proved to be the difference as the Phoenix fell 4-2 in 6-AAA play at the Sonoraville Recreation Complex.
After working out of multiple jams with limited damage over the first four innings and the game tied at 1-1, Sonoraville starting pitcher Jax Lockaby saw North Murray put together a rally in the fifth as Ty Kendrick drove home a run on an RBI-single and Logan Malchesky bring home another with a sacrifice fly to right field. Those runs were sandwiched around an error by the Phoenix defense that gave the Mountaineers an additional run in the inning.
Sonoraville (7-7, 2-3 in 6-AAA) had their chance to answer in the bottom half of the inning as Kannon England doubled to lead off the frame and then came hope to score on a throwing error later in the inning. Hayden Holsomback and Tanner Folds proceeded to reach with two outs on a walk and a single, respectively, but North Murray starter Daniel Skojac got out of the jam with getting a groundout to end the threat.
Sonoraville only had one other player reach base in the final two innings as Skojac finished off the complete game for the road victory on the mound for the Mountaineers.
“We had some chances with runners on and runners on and runners in scoring position, but we just didn’t get that big hit when we needed it tonight,” said Sonoraville head coach Deron Walraven. “We hit some balls hard a few times tonight, but it was right at them. We just didn’t catch any breaks, and (North Murray) played really good defense. And (Skojac) did a good job for them on the mound. He kept us a little off balance for most of the night.”
“We didn’t do enough tonight to get the win. We made some mistakes, and North Murray took advantage of those mistakes. We weren’t able to take advantage of their mistakes as much.”
The Phoenix took the lead in the third with a run on an RBI-single by Hayden Holsomback, which brought in England, who finished 2-for-3 on the day with two doubles and two runs scored.
North Murray (5-10, 2-3 in 6-AAA) evened the score in the fourth as Skojac helped his own cause with an RBI-single that brought home Malchesky, who was hit by a pitch and stole a base earlier in the inning. Skojac was 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI. Spencer Chasteen also finished with two hits for the Mountaineers, Kendrick had a hit, an RBI and a walk and Cade Petty and Sebastian Villareal each contributed a hit and a run scored.
On the mound for North Murray, Skojac went seven innings to earn the complete-game win as he allowed two runs on six hits while striking out two and walking two.
Sonoraville starter Lockaby matched Skojac for much of the night before the tough fifth inning. Lockaby took the loss after going five innings and allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits while striking out one and walking two. Zach Lyles came on in relief for the Phoenix and pitched two shut-down innings, getting North Murray in 1-2-3 fashion in both the sixth and the seventh, striking out five Mountaineer batters.
“We got good pitching tonight,” said Walraven. “Jax pitched well. He had the one tough inning, but we made some mistakes and they took advantage of them. And Zach came in and really pitched well to shut them down. Jax has done the job all season for us. He’s been a bulldog on the mound. He made some big pitches with runners on early in the game tonight before that tough fifth inning where (North Murray) added two runs that they really shouldn’t have gotten. Zach came in and shut the door. He hasn’t been on the mound all that much for us early in the season because he came in late from basketball and then had some arm soreness he was dealing with. But he is going to be one of our key cogs over the next several weeks coming down the stretch.”
Offensively for Sonoraville, Holsomback and England each finished with two hits as England had the two doubles and two runs scored and Holsomback drove in a run and reached one other time on a walk. Jaxon Pate, Tanner Folds and Cole Gross also each added a hit as well.
The two teams will meet up again on Monday at 5:55 p.m. at North Murray as Sonoraville tries to even the score against the Mountaineers.
“We just told our guys after the game that they should be hungry to get back out there on Monday and get a win back,” said Walraven. “We’ve been in the same situation a few times this season where we’ve lost Game 1 to a team and then came back in the second game and turn things around with a win. We’ve got to come out and make things happen. We need to correct our mistakes and come out on Monday with the right attitude.”
Sonoraville has a busy week ahead as they will follow up Monday’s game at North Murray with a home date against Rockmart on Tuesday at 5:55 p.m., a road trip to Rockmart on Thursday at 5:55 p.m. and another road contest on Friday to close out the week against LFO at 5:55 p.m.