MARION — They literally gave up a run at the start of the game to an underdog opponent. But the Marion Indians responded kind of well to that little bit of adversity.
Well, that’s only if you consider scoring 10 runs in the bottom of the first inning responding well.
That’s the crooked number the fourth-ranked Indians came up with as part of a 12-6 win over South Tama in a Class 3A district final Monday night. Correct that, that’s the double-digit number Marion came up with.
“That was pretty fun,” said Marion outfielder Mitch McAllister. “That little mistake we had there in the first inning kind of set the tempo. We knew they weren’t just going to roll over. We had to come out and put some runs up on the board early.”
Yeah, a ton of them. A whopping 14 guys batted, with the first 10 reaching base in a half-inning that went a good 20 minutes.
Leadoff man Gage Franck batted twice, singled twice and scored twice, McAllister had a two-run single, Rick Atkins a RBI triple, Mark Horcher a RBI double. You get the idea.
This was so much damage, everyone forgot all about that little unearned run South Tama (15-22) got in the top of the first: plated when starting pitcher Austin Prier hit a batter with two outs, his courtesy runner stole second and scored when Marion’s catcher threw wildly past first base on a swinging strike three in the dirt.
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“We just had to take the pressure off of Austin on the mound,” Franck said. “And scoring 10 runs takes the pressure off him.”
“Obviously, in past years, we’ve had some big outbursts,” said Marion Coach Steve Fish. “But 10 in the first inning of a tournament game? I can’t ever remember that, especially after giving them a run right away.”
Marion (31-5) tied the school record for victories in a season here and can top that by winning a 3A substate final Wednesday night at home against Solon (22-17). It’ll most likely be a matchup of outstanding starting pitchers in Solon’s Cam Miller (6-3, 0.92 ERA) and Marion’s Atkins (9-1, 0.45).
“Miller is a great pitcher, and it will be a great fight with him and Rick on the mound,” Franck said.
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