By Matt Turer — email@example.com
Hartville, Mo. — If Mansfield is going to hit like this in the postseason, the three wins still needed for a state title look a lot less daunting.
The Lions (18-2) scored at least one run in every inning Monday night, overcoming an early 3-0 deficit in a game that saw Mason Roy, Spencer Greene, Jordan Evans and Sean Neal combine for 13 hits, four home runs, nine runs and 10 RBIs in their 15-6 sectional win over Hartville.
“Our goal was to win every inning and we [almost] did,” Roy said. “We just came out and hit with the stick and put it to them.”
Roy’s two-run home run in the second off Hartville (15-4) starter James Schmidt gave Mansfield a 4-3 lead. That lead was erased twice before Greene put the Lions up for good at 8-6 with a three-run homer in the fourth inning.
“I think when Mason [Roy] hit that home run to give us the lead after we went down early, that was the biggest hit of the game,” Mansfield head coach Gary Greene said.
Roy’s homer settled down a Mansfield dugout that was put on its heels after a two-run James Schmidt double and a Deric Jones sacrifice fly gave Hartville a 3-0 first-inning lead.
“I felt like I finally stepped up when I needed to and it helped everyone come together as one,” Roy said after his home run, his second of the season.
Evans’ home run gave Mansfield a temporary 5-4 lead in the third while Neal’s three-run homer capped a six-run third and gave the Lions breathing room with an 11-6 lead.
“Man, they hit it well today,” Hartville head coach Joe Garrison said. “Got to tip your cap when a team can come out and hit like that against seniors who have not been hit like that all year. They’re doing something right and we wish them the best of luck, but this one hurts. This one hurts.”
Jace Keith replaced Schmidt in the second inning but didn’t fair much better even after the Eagles staff allowed just two runs in last week’s District 9 tournament.
“They’ve been playing really well, but we’ve been playing pretty well too, and we felt like they’re going to have to beat us,” Greene said.
Greene started on the mound for Mansfield but was pulled after allowing six runs on six hits in 3.2 innings during an early back-and-forth ballgame, including a solo shot to Keith.
“We were able to come back. We had the lead early. Gave it up. Then got it back. Balls were just flying out of here like crazy like I haven’t seen in several years. Just got beat today,” Garrison said.
Neal and Evans combined for 3.1 scoreless innings in relief of Greene, striking out eight without allowing a hit while putting to bed any hope of a Hartville upset over Class 2’s No. 2-ranked club.
“They’re shell-shocked. Same as me,” Garrison said of his team after the loss. “It’s tough. We’ve got six seniors who ended their career today. They made a decision this spring to do everything in their power to win, and they did that day-in-day-out. Today, we really believed [we could win]. We had a good opportunity to beat Mansfield. We knew it was gonna be a battle, and there was punches thrown on both teams back and forth, and neither team quit.”
Both teams brought a large contingent to Monday’s sectional. The crowd was packed three deep along each baseline with an even split of maroon and blue.
“This is what high school sports is about,” Garrison said. “If you miss that part then you missed everything, because this is what it should be. It should be two teams battling and punching back and forth with all your crowd behind you. That’s what you love about it.”
Mansfield will host Galena at 4 p.m. Wednesday. Galena (18-5) beat McAuley Catholic 2-1 in 10 innings Monday.