By Scott Vanscoy (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The Mansfield Lions successfully defended their reign as District Champs by defeating the Seymour Tigers, 6-4, on Tuesday night. The Lions were led on the mound by two senior pitchers, Spencer Greene and Jordan Evans. They held the Tigers to just six hits through seven innings while striking out 13.
“This is our third District in a row,” said Mansfield coach Joe Garrison, “these seniors have seen a lot and they’ve done it all. We just come out, put it in our seniors’ hands and put them on the mound today. We threw two seniors, Spencer Greene and Jordan Evans, and they threw strikes and kept us in the ballgame.”
On being named the starting pitcher for the District final, Greene felt it was an honor that his coach would select him to start.
“You’ve just got to go out there and compete, that’s all you can do,” said Greene. “Just keep your head up, nobody is perfect, we know we’re not perfect but we know we are dang good. You’ve just got to trust in your team. We’re confident in ourselves.”
The game started off strong for Seymour as they plated runs in the first and second inning while holding the Lions to just one hit through the first two. It was in the top of the third that the Lions got to Seymour starting pitcher Mo McCarty, batting around and scoring six. The key hit was a bases-loaded double off the bat of sophomore Arly Miller.
“It felt good off the bat, definitely,” said Miller. “I was looking inside and he gave it right there to me so I just hit it right in the gap. I was pumped.”
The six runs were all that the Lions would need, as the two seniors allowed Seymour just two more hits for the last four innings. When Greene reached his pitch limit in the sixth he handed the ball over to Evans to finish the game. Evans struck out five of the eight batters he faced, with only one batter making contact.
“Jordan relies heavily on his fastball but he probably doesn’t get enough credit for how good his curveball is,” said Garrison. “When he’s capable of throwing it for a strike, it’s pretty tough to hit. He had both pitches going well today. He’s done pretty good in this district, I’ve thrown him four innings and he’s struck out ten batters in those four innings. That’s pretty impressive in the two games of the districts.”
Evans was proud of his teammates’ efforts, although he did not need their help on defense.
“I knew they weren’t going to hit it,” said Evans. “There was a lot of confidence out there, I knew that if they got the chance my team would make the play but I didn’t want to give them the chance.”
Seymour coach Scott Nicholson couldn’t say anything negative about his team.
“They fought and clawed all year long and we just came up a little bit short today,” said Nicholson. “We had a chance, too. We’ve been here before and at times the moment got too big for us but as I told them out there, we learn from it. I feel like baseball gives you a lot of life lessons; being ready for big moments and taking advantage of them. Hopefully we’re in the same spot next year and we respond a little bit differently. We said going into today, good or bad nothing was going to erase a great season. Almost two years ago we had a meeting with all the guys and asked what they wanted to do. They said they wanted to do something special and they wanted to set a foundation for Seymour baseball and they’ve done that. It wasn’t our day today but they put this program on the right direction. Better days are ahead for Seymour baseball.”
In summing up the game, Garrison gave his team praise for their grit and perseverence.
“Our offense had a big inning in the third and that turned things around for us here today,” said Garrison. “That’s the good thing about seniors, they’ve see it all, they’ve come from behind, we rely on our experience. Now when they get tested, or punched in the mouth as I call it, they know how to fight back. I’m very blessed to be a part of it and fortunate that they did. At times it seemed a little sloppy but we are going to work to get it cleaned up. It makes us tougher and we’ve got to understand that we are better than that. I don’t worry about it too much because our averages and the way we’ve fielded have been pretty good all year. I’m so blessed to a part of this, God’s blessed my career and I thank Him for it.”
Mansfield 6, Seymour 4
Mansfield 006 000 0 — 6
Seymour 112 000 0 — 4