In a game billed as a pitcher’s duel, and with at least a share of the Big 8 Conference title on the line, the Seneca Indians and Monett Cubs didn’t disappoint on Tuesday.
While the game wasn’t the strikeout fest that some envisioned, both limited the damage and went deep in the game as the Indians pulled out a thrilling 6-5 win at the Seneca Baseball/Softball Complex.
Seneca starter Colton Webber out-dueled Cubs hurler, and Crowder College commit, Aaron Patton in a battle of southpaws. Early on it was the Cubs that were in control, however, as they scored one in the top of the first to take a 1-0 lead.
The score stayed that way as Patton dealt through the first two innings, but the Indians finally struck in the bottom of the third with three runs to move in front 3-1. The Cubs would later tie it on a wild play in the top of the fifth.
With runners at second and third on the play, Seneca shortstop Marty Mailes made the highlight reel with a diving stop to his right on a ball deep in the hole. As the runner raced home from third, Mailes’ throw to first deflected off first baseman Payton Rawlins and trickled far enough away to allow a second run to score to tie it 3-3.
The Indians would get it all back in the bottom of the inning on a play eerily similar to the one that allowed the Cubs to move ahead minutes earlier. This time a grounder to third with runners at second and third was snagged by the Monett third baseman, but his throw bounced off the first baseman and rolled away to allow both Seneca runners to score, giving them the lead 5-3. They would add another in the inning to go up 6-3.
Monett added two more runs in the top of the sixth, but Seneca reliever Dalan Merriman escaped a jam with the tying run at second and slammed the door in the seventh to seal the victory.
The win moved the Indians to 15-4 overall, 6-1 in the Big 8 with one conference game against Mount Vernon to go. The Indians are now guaranteed at least a share of the conference title, but a win over the Mountaineers on Friday would give them the title outright.
“It was a very good win tonight,” Indians coach Chris Yust said. “We knew if we were patient we’d get our pitches to hit, and we put together some quality at-bats tonight. We did just enough to win tonight. We’re two quality teams and we’ll probably see each other again down the road.
“We clinched at least a share tonight, but we want to go out and take care of business against Mount Vernon.”
Page 2 of 2 - Merriman, Mailes, Cade Cornett, Brett Roark and Braden Larson each had a hit for the Indians. Merriman scored twice, while Mailes, Cornett, Larson and Webber scored once each. Cornett also drew two of the Indians’ nine walks in the game.
Isaac Long led the Cubs with two hits.
The Indians go to Webb City at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.