|Miller Grove drops game one against Union Hill|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
May 18, 2005 - MOUNT PLEASANT - The Miller Grove Hornets had two innings Tuesday against Union Hill where they stranded runners in scoring position. Unfortunately, that didn't happen in the sixth inning.
Union Hill pulled off an unusual triple play in the top of the sixth to preserve a 3-1 victory over the Hornets in the first game of the Class A regional quarterfinals series.
Game 2 is set for 5 p.m. Friday at Paris Junior College, with Game 3 to follow 30 minutes after the conclusion of Game 2, if necessary.
That half inning was unusual from the start. Miller Grove junior James Weaver rapped his third single of the game to open the inning, then Cole Schoenky blooped a bleeder down the first base line that Union Hill second baseman Mitch Clemens made a diving attempt at. Clemens clearly touched the ball in fair territory, then slid into foul ground as the ball popped out of his glove and rolled to the fence.
The first base umpire initially called the ball foul, but then changed the call after a conference with the other officials. Schoenky was awarded second and Weaver third.
With no outs, it appeared that might be the break the Hornets needed to tie the game. But that threat ended two pitches later when pinch hitter Billy Giles hit a come-backer to pitcher Shawn Hayes, who threw to first for one out. Then, Schoenky got caught between second and third, which prompted Weaver to make a dash for home. Weaver, though, was tagged out in a rundown between home and third, and Schoenky was caught between second and third to complete the triple play.
"That's the first time I've been involved in a triple play," said MG head coach Sam Panter. "It shouldn't have happened, and I've been guaranteed it won't happen again. That hurt us right there. We had a shot to get within one run and maybe tie it up.
"When you're in the playoffs, you've got to take advantage of your opportunities - they did and we didn't."
Not only did the triple play keep the Hornets from scoring, it also robbed the top of the MG batting order from getting another shot at Hayes. The top three in the batting order - Frank Weaver, Ben Whillock and James Weaver - were a combined 6-for-9 with a home run and a double. Whillock was 2-for-3 and James Weaver was 3-for-3.
Hayes, a junior righty, didn't have much trouble with the rest of the order, as they went 1-for-17 with a walk and 11 strikeouts.
Whillock pitched a strong game for Miller Grove (15-5). The senior southpaw gave up just four hits and struck out nine, but a batter who walked and another who reached on an error both scored.
The game started nicely for Miller Grove as lead-off hitter Frank Weaver hammered his sixth home run of the season over the left field fence for a 1-0 lead. Whillock and Weaver followed with singles, but couldn't score. That set an unfortunate tone for the game.
"We had two innings that we had runners in scoring position that we couldn't get the key hit," Panter said. "It comes down to getting some runs when you have the opportunity."
Hayes, the Bulldogs' lead-off batter, was involved in all three Union Hill runs. Union Hill (20-4) tied the game in the bottom of the first as Hayes beat out an infield single and eventually scored on a wild pitch.
The Bulldogs took the lead for good in the second as Eddie Fisher walked with one out, was sacrificed to second and scored on Hayes' single to center. Then, in the fifth, the Bulldogs added an insurance run as Hayes reached on an error and scored on Dallas Jones' sacrifice fly.
Despite losing the series opener, Panter was upbeat about the Hornets' chances in Game 2, when he will throw senior Frank Weaver, who has a 7-0 record and 0.49 ERA this season.
"If Frank can keep us close and we get a break or two, we'll take this thing to the third game," Panter said.