DWIGHT — The big blue machine that is Marquette Academy baseball appeared to be a little more human than it has in recent weeks this season, but it didn’t take long for those cogs to slip right back into place for another workmanlike victory.
In their first game at the Dwight Class 1A Regional, the top-seeded Crusaders made a couple of mistakes both pitching and in the field early on and found themselves trailing 3-1 to a Midland team they had beaten twice during the Tri-County Conference regular season by a combined score of 24-0.
Though the club’s traveling faithful expressed a little concern over the deficit, they didn’t need to.
The Cru just as quickly righted those mistakes and scored 10 unanswered runs — three on a clutch home run by senior Haydon Price — while junior hurler John Thompson settled in and allowed just three baserunners over the final five innings of an 11-3 win over the No. 4-seeded Timberwolves.
The victory sends the Cru (27-1) into Saturday’s 11 a.m. championship game against the winner of today’s contest between No. 6-seeded host Dwight and No. 4 Gardner-South Wilmington.
“This is what we’ve worked all season for, the chance to play on championship Saturday,” said Marquette coach Todd Hopkins. “You don’t get any style points for wins like this, but I’m proud the kids didn’t get down, stayed in the game and showed the maturity to overcome some adversity.
"But if we don’t have a better approach on Saturday, it’s not going to be pretty, because those are two pretty good teams we could be facing, and whichever one it is I’m counting on seeing their best game of the year that day, so we better be ready to go.”
After MA scored in the home first on a walk to Luke Couch, a groundout and two balks by Midland starter and losing pitcher Bryce Welsh, the Timberwolves (6-17) took advantage of a pair of uncharacteristic miscues to put runners on so that hits by Fred Traver, Dylan Lambrecht and Luke Goard off Thompson brought in three and dropped the Cru behind.
But his teammates, unflustered, got him the lead back immediately. Walks to Price and Jay Scott and an error on Shane Reynolds' bouncer netted one run, and Nate Melvin put MA in front with a two-RBI double to left.
That was all Thompson needed.
While he was blanking the T-Wolves the rest of the way, the Cru got a sac fly by Reynolds in the fourth. And in the fifth, after a Max Donahue single and Jack Snook double, Price unloaded a blast far over the wall in left-center field. Reynolds scored on a wild pitch later in that frame, and in the sixth so did Snook, just prior to a Price sac fly.
“Haydon getting that hit in a big situation was huge, because (Midland) was still in it,” Hopkins said. “He’d been struggling the last few weeks, but he battled back to a 2-2 count, got the pitch he liked and was all over it. That gave us the cushion we needed. …
"John did a great job not letting that inning bother him. He battled through it and shut them down in the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh, just like he needed to do. We kept our composure at the plate, got a little help from them and did what we had to do."
Snook finished with three of the winners' 11 hits, and Nate Melvin, Nick Melvin and Donahue two each. Goard had two of the five safeties by Midland.
Marquette 11, Midland 3
MIDLAND (3) — Welsh p-2b 4-0-1-0, Goard ss 4-0-2-2, Drake cf 2-0-0-0, Cal. Blew rf 2-1-0-0, Lindstrom lf 3-0-0-0, Rosa c 3-0-0-0, Cad. Blew cr 0-0-0-0, Traver 1b 3-1-1-1, Lambrecht 2b 3-1-1-0, Yarger p 0-0-0-0. Totals 27-3-5-3.
MARQUETTE (11) — Na. Melvin ss 4-0-2 2, Couch 2 b 2-1-1-0, Komater cf 4-0-0-0, Donahue dh 4-2-2-0, Thompson p 0-0-0-0, Snook rf 4-2-3-0, Price 1b 2-2-1-4, Ni, Melvin lf 4-1-2-0, Scott c 2-0-1-0, Green cr 0-1-0-0, Reynolds 3b 2-2-0-1. Totals 28-11-12-7.
Midland (6-18) 030 000 0 – 3 5 3
Marquette (27-1) 130 142 x – 11 12 2
LOB – Midland 5, Marquette 8. 2B – Goard, Na. Melvin, Snook. HR – Price. SAC – Scott. SF – Price, Reynolds. SB – Couch 2, Ni. Melvin, Reynolds. HBP – Cal. Blew (by Thompson).
Midland ip r er h bb k
Welsh (L) 5.0 9 6 8 6 1
Yarger 1.0 2 2 4 0 0
Thompson (W) 7.0 3 0 5 1 3