After five scoreless innings, Melissa’s Cardinals erupted for five runs in the sixth and eventually took down Aubrey, 7-2, on Friday, March 24, at Aubrey. Junior pitcher Andrew Cole went most all the way for Melissa, scattering four hits and two walks while striking out six. Junior Adam Davis came on to close out the final two Aubrey batters as Melissa evened its district record at 1-1.

Davis and junior Tate Whittington led the Cards at the plate, with three and two RBIs, respectively. Whittington collected two hits, including a two-run homer in the seventh inning that pushed Melissa’s lead to 7-0. Davis’ three-run double in the sixth had given the Cards a 4-0 advantage. Freshman Grayson Hurst also had two hits for Melissa in three at-bats, while teammates senior Dalton Vestal, junior Brady Morrison and Cole added one hit apiece. The Cards overcame three errors in the victory.

Senior starter Cody Johnson worked five innings on the mound for Aubrey (1-1), giving up six hits and two walks with five strikeouts.

Cards battle but fall to Bonham

MELISSA — In the district-opener for both teams on March 21, Melissa and Bonham put on quite a show at Melissa’s Sydney Field – as in: pitchers’ duel, with a side of great defense. Ultimately, it was hurler Cody Easly and the Warriors who prevailed, 3-0, over junior Brady Morrison and the Cardinals.

Easly allowed one hit in seven complete innings and faced 27 batters. He struck out eight with four walks and threw 93 pitches. Morrison fired 101 pitches in his complete game, scattering five hits in seven innings, with three strike outs and three walks. He faced 31 batters. Each team committed an error.

“They’re a great team,” Melissa head coach Jason Russell said of Bonham. “(Warriors head coach John) Ramsey does a great job with those boys. It was a good atmosphere. Our fans came out and supported us. We just wish we’d gotten the ‘dub’ for them.”

“He pitched his tail off,” Russell said of Morrison. “That’s what he does. He misses lots of (bat) barrels. Even when they got hits, they weren’t ‘stung’, they weren’t in the gaps. That’s baseball — they hit it where you ain’t. And they did that tonight, so hats off to them.”

“I knew it would be tough,” Ramsey said. “Cody did a hell of a job on the mound. Got up early, got on some guys and we played good defense behind him. That’s what it’s going to take to win in this district.”

Ramsey said he never considered pulling Easly with two Cards on base in the seventh.

“His pitch-count was good,” Ramsey said. “He’s thrown more than that already this year. He was battling up on the mound, so, no, he was going to finish it off. I asked him how he was feeling and he gave me the thumbs-up.”

Ramsey had visited the mound in that final frame, after Easly had quickly gotten two ground outs but then walked Krisjon Segleski and junior Jake Burrow to face the potential tying run in senior Cody Jackson. Jackson battled to a 2-2 count but would take a high-looking strike three to end the game.

Defensive gems in support of Morrison’s scrappy performance were plentiful. In a 1-2-3 top of the sixth with Bonham up, 2-0, Melissa first baseman and junior Tate Whittington closed out the Warriors with a great stab on a line-drive shot that was headed to the right field fence. In the seventh, third baseman Andrew Cole made a similar stop to keep Bonham’s lead at 3-0.

“Our defense was really good,” Russell said. “We’ve got to find ways to scratch runs. Leaving six in scoring position is not going to cut it, especially against good teams. We’ve to find guys that can step up and hit in big-time situations and we’ll be fine.”

After a scoreless first two innings, the Warriors started cooking with two out in the third. Cade Trompler was hit by a pitch and stole second before an Austin Simmerman double to left brought him home. Cody Hartwell followed with another double to left that scored Simmerman. That would be all for Bonham until the seventh, when Trevor Hartwell doubled to right to bring Simmerman home from second.

Frustrating the Cards this night were offensive chances that went untapped. In the first inning, Melissa got Whittington over to third base with one out, but Easly would strike out the next two batters. In the third, David Crees beat out a bunt-single to open the frame but was later picked-off at first. In the fourth, Cole and senior Danny Vestal reached second and third, respectively, with two out but again Easly killed the threat with a “K.” Whittington was hit by a pitch to open the fifth, but after Vestal’s sacrifice bunt moved him to second, Easly got the next two batters on a pop-fly to left and a grounder to second.