By KYLE LOVERN
GILBERT – The Mingo Central Miners upset the Man Hillbillies 11-9 Wednesday night in an exciting slugfest played at the old Gilbert High School field.
Mingo was leading 11-6 heading into bottom of the 7th inning. Relief pitcher Jacob Staton was able to pitch out of a bases loaded jam, after Man had scored three runs to cut the lead 11-9, and had the go-ahead run on first base.
A steady rain began falling making it tough to grip the baseball in the 7th inning. After Man got their final three runs, the Miners got the first out on a lazy fly ball to right field, they got the second out on a popup to the pitcher and Staton struck out the final batter for the third and final out of the game.
Man took an early 2-0 lead in the top of the 1st inning as Braden Griffin smacked a 2-run homer over the right field fence. Aaron Williams had leadoff with a single for the Billies ahead of Griffin’s shot.
The Hillbillies took a 6-0 lead in the top of the 3rd frame with a 4-run rally. Jordan Simpson, who just signed to play baseball at West Virginia State, doubled to deep center field. Jake Riggins then brought Simpson in with an RBI single, followed by a single by Drew Merrit. Tom Blair was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Then Cayce Mullins knocked in two more runs with a single up the middle. Williams then doubled with two outs to give Man a 6-0 advantage.
Things looked bleak for the Miners until they came up with a big 5-run rally of their own in the bottom of the third. Garth Simpkins led off with a double down the right field line. Austin Reed reached first base on an error. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, Simpson’s pickoff attempt went over the first baseman’s outstretched glove to score Simpkins.
Then Staton was hit by a pitch and gave MCHS runners on 1st and 2nd base. Then Nick Lee smacked a single to load the bases. Then Josh May got an RBI the hard way as he was hit in the elbow and for a time went down writhing in pain.
With the score 6-2 Matt Lester then cleared the bases with a 2-out double to cut Man’s lead to 6-5.
Mingo Central took the lead in the bottom of the 5th inning. Merrit was brought in to pitch in relief of the starter Simpson. John May walked for the Miners and stole second base. Then Gabe Vinson cracked an RBI single to tie the game 6-6. Vinson later scored on a throwing error and the home team led 7-6,
Mingo Central got some insurance runs in the bottom of the 6th inning. John May had an RBI single to make it 8-6. Man walked Josh May with the bases loaded to make it 9-6.
Then with the bases loaded Vinson got another big hit for the Miners as he smacked a bases loaded single for two more RBIs to give his team an 11-6 lead.
Mingo then held off the furious last inning rally by Man and came away with the big victory.
“This was a good win for our program,” head coach Walt Cline said. “Man has a good team. We got some timely hits when we needed them. Staton came in and pitched well in relief. Hopefully this will give us some momentum.”
Score by innings:
MHS …. 2 0 4 0 0 0 3 – 9
MCHS … 0 0 5 0 3 4 x - 11