UNION CITY – Franklin Monroe jumped out to an 11-1 lead in Saturday’s baseball game at Mississinawa Valley, which propelled the Jets to a 12-6 win and ended the Blackhawks’ hopes for a Cross County Conference championship.
Franklin Monroe played a solid all-around game, collecting 11 hits and committing just one error in Saturday’s victory.
“We’re probably playing the best ball we have all year, maybe for two years,” Franklin Monroe coach Eddie Meyers said.
Mississinawa Valley collected 12 hits on Saturday, most of which came in the final three innings. Along with starting slow, the Blackhawks were hampered by seven errors.
“Just a total lack of focus in my opinion,” Mississinawa Valley coach Max Guillozet said. “It’s very, very frustrating for me. It’s just one of them things. The last couple games … you know we start out 7-1 and a lot of excitement in the air, and the last couple games we’re just losing focus. A lot of errors.”
Not helping matters for Mississinawa Valley was the fact that it had prom on Friday night.
“You know, probably out ’til 2:30, 3 o’clock in the morning,” Coach Guillozet said. “You know, tired minds don’t perform. It’s as simple as that, and it’s unfortunate because that loss today pretty much took us out of any chances of having a chance to win the conference. That’s pretty much a done deal for us unless something crazy happens. It’s frustrating because this is probably the best baseball that’s probably been through this school system in my opinion. I know it’s the best team I’ve had in my seven years here. It’s just tough sometimes keeping boys, high school kids focused. It’s frustrating. Very, very frustrating.”
Mississinawa Valley’s hopes for a win took a major hit in the second inning when Franklin Monroe batted around and scored five runs.
Trevor Collins and Larkin Ressler had singles to start the rally then Caden Goins was hit by a pitch to load the bases. FM scored the game’s first run when a pop-up into shallow center by Noah Koffer dropped in between three MV fielders.
Jeremy Bridenbaugh then drove in two runs with a double to make it 3-0. Zach Cable had a sacrifice fly to bring in another run then the fifth run of the inning scored when Levi Altic reached base on an error.
“Offense was great,” Meyers said. “Base running was impeccable. We had a few mistakes, but we cleaned those up. But, yeah, right now our bats are hot, and we’re swinging it when it matters most.”
Mississinawa Valley’s first run came in the bottom of the third. Matt Slob and Zac Longfellow had back-to-back infield singles. Then as Longfellow stole second, the throw from the catcher went into center field and allowed Slob to score.
After giving up a run, Franklin Monroe responded with an offensive barrage in the fourth inning and plated six more runs.
Goins led off the inning with a double and Koffer reached on an error to put runners on the corners. Bridenbaugh then singled to bring in a run. After a single by Cable loaded the bases, a sacrifice fly by Altic brought in another run and made it 7-1.
A two-out walk to Trevor Collins loaded the bases again then Timothy Lawson singled to bring in two runs. Ressler then had an infield single, which coupled with a throwing error allowed two runs to score and make it 11-1.
“We played pretty fundamentally sound today,” Meyers said. “Our pitchers threw real well. Our bats are coming around at a good time. The last couple games we’ve started to string together a bunch of hits, and it’s good for the guys to see it come off the bat real hard.”
Down 10 runs, Mississinawa Valley was able to bring score one more in the bottom half of the fifth inning to avoid the run-rule defeat.
Colton Hines walked and Cody Dirksen singled to put two runners on base with one out. A fielder’s choice left runners on the corners with two outs then Longfellow beat a throw to first for an infield single, allowing Hines to score and extend the game.
After five innings of limited offense, Mississinawa Valley started to find a groove in the sixth inning.
Trent Collins and Ethan Dirksen singled to begin the inning, causing Franklin Monroe to replace Koffer on the mound with Bridenbaugh.
A walk to Kyler Guillozet loaded the bases then an error brought in a run, making it 11-3. Max Dirmeyer then singled to drive in two runs and Longfellow had a single to bring in another, cutting the deficit to 11-6.
“They rallied there towards the end,” Coach Guillozet said. “I don’t know. Maybe they woke up, finally woke up.”
The game’s final run came in the top of the seventh.
Goins singled and went to second on a pitch in the dirt. He went to third on a sacrifice grounder by Koffer and scored on an infield single by Bridenbaugh to bring the score to 12-6.
Mississinawa Valley made a final push in the bottom of the seventh and had the bases loaded, but Bridenbaugh got out of the jam to preserve the 12-6 Franklin Monroe victory.
Bridenbaugh led the FM offense as he was 4-for-5 with a double, two runs and four RBIs. Goins was 2-for-3 with a double, was hit by a pitch and scored three runs. Cable was 2-for-5, stole two bases and scored a run.
Lawson was 1-for-3, scored a run and drove in two runs. Trevor Collins was 1-for-3 and scored two runs. Bryce Filbrun was 1-for-4 and stole a base. Koffer scored two runs and drove in a run. Altic was hit by a pitch and drove in two runs. Ressler stole a base, scored a run and drove in a run.
Longfellow was 3-for-4 with a stolen base and two RBIs for Mississinawa Valley. Dirmeyer was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Trent Collins was 2-for-4 and scored a run. Hines was 1-for-2 with a RBI and two runs. Slob was 1-for-1 and scored a run. Kyler Guillozet was 1-for-3 and scored a run. Ethan Dirksen was 1-for-4 and scored a run. Cody Dirksen was 1-for-4.
Koffer earned the win for FM as he pitched five-plus innings, allowing three earned runs and one unearned run on six hits, one walk and four strikeouts.
“Noah has been our bulldog for the last three or four years from this program,” Meyers said. “He’ll always go up there and compete no matter what happens. No matter what happens on the field he’s always our bulldog.”
Bridenbaugh pitched two innings in relief for the Jets, allowing two earned runs on six hits, two walks and two strikeouts.
Slob was charged with the loss for Mississinawa Valley as he lasted four innings, allowing one earned run and 10 unearned runs on seven hits, one walk, two hit batters and two strikeouts. Kyler Guillozet pitched three innings in relief and allowed one earned run on four hits, no walks and one strikeout.
Franklin Monroe improved to 5-5 with Saturday’s win while Mississinawa Valley fell to 7-3.
“After today I’d say the excitement about (winning the conference) for us is definitely over,” Coach Guillozet said. “We’ve just got to get focused, and now we’ve got to just prepare to win as many more games as we can this year and get ready for the tournament.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.