By Chris Soule
The Mary Persons baseball team is off to a 3-0 start after a thrilling 13-12 win over Morgan County on Saturday thanks to a walk-off single by senior Jaden Bankston.
Mary Persons had dominated Morgan County through four innings of play on a sun-splashed Saturday in Forsyth, the Bulldogs from Madison battled back to tie the game in the top of the 7th inning. Sophomore pitcher Thomas Brooks was able to hold Morgan County to three runs through four innings. Brooks started out cruising in the first inning only giving up 1 walk while allowing the defense to do their job. He then was roughed up a bit in the second inning as Morgan County tagged him for 3 runs that started with a fielding error. He then bounced back with two scoreless innings with the 4th inning striking out the side in order.
The Bulldog offense, which had taken a step backward in the previous game, jumped all over the opposing pitcher by scoring 7 runs in the first 2 innings. By the end of the 4th inning MP was up 11-3 looking like the game was out of reach. In the next three innings MC went on to score 9 unanswered runs to retake the lead in the top of the 7th inning. The Bulldogs refused to back down and were set up to roll back the top of the order as Thorn Anderson started it off with a line drive to left field on the second pitch of the inning. Eric Snow then earned a free pass on the 7th pitch to put runners at 1st and 2nd. Thomas Willingham laid down a perfect bunt on the 3rd base line while making it to first base without a throw, loading the bases setting up both the tying run and winning run in scoring position. Caden Swancey then also took the second pitch of the at bat hitting a soft infield single scoring the tying run. Tied 12-12 with 1 out and the bases loaded, Jaden Bankston stepped to the plate. With a 1-1 count and the infielders playing in, Bankston hits the ball between the 3rd baseman and shortstop to cap off a thriller, winning 13-12.
“It was pretty cool,” Bankston told the Reporter. “First time I had done something like that so it’ll be a great memory.”
After the game coach Mathis couldn’t be more proud of how his team performed as Morgan County is a rivalry game which has given his team fits over the past couple of years. He stated that this was a huge senior moment that Bankston will never forget. This team was able to battle through diversity with the ups and downs that it faced in just one game, said Mathis. Morgan County had 12 runs on 11 hits with 7 errors. Mary Persons scored 13 on 12 hits and 3 errors. Top hitters included Swancey (3), Snow (2), Willingham (2), Brooks (1), Bankston (1), Mitchell (1), Aric Mock (1) and Anderson (1). Swancey was a standout going 3-4 with 3 RBIs.
The Bulldogs had improved to 2-0 on Wednesday, Feb. 17 with a 4-0 shutout of Howard. MP senior Thomas Willingham got the win, throwing a complete game. Willingham gave up two hits, walking three batters, and striking out seven. He was able to keep Howard’s hitters off balance with an arrangement of offspeed pitches to complement his fastball. Willingham was able to use his change-up effectively to keep the hitters off balance.
The Bulldogs were able to get on the board early after a wild pitch was able to score Eric Snow from 3rd base. This game was a pitchers’ duel throughout until the 4th inning where the starter from Howard struggled with command giving up 4 walks and hitting 1 batter which led to two runs scoring. In the top of the 6th inning Snow singled on a line drive to center field scoring the final run of the game. Defensively, MP turned 3 double plays as the team continued to look more confident in the field. Coach Mathis said after the game that the team didn’t have their best stuff today but they battled hard throughout and came on top with a victory now putting the team at 2-0. He felt the offense took a step back even though Howard had some pretty good pitchers.
MP scored 4 runs on 6 hits and 2 errors. Howard had just 2 hits and 2 errors. Top MP hitters were Judd (2) Mock (1) Snow (1) Swancey (1) and Anderson (1).
The Bulldogs are slated to host Howard on Wednesday at 6 p.m., play at Morgan County on Thursday at 5:55 p.m., a road doubleheader on Saturday at Alcovy at 11:30 a.m. and at Rutland at 4:30 p.m. Then MP hosts Eagles Landing at 5:30 p.m. on Monday.