According to Murray baseball coach Derek Hathaway, "Hitting is contagious."
Apparently he's right because it was spreading like a wild fire for his Spartans. Murray clobbered the ball all over the field and the fence in beating West 11-6 on Monday to move into second place all alone in Region 6.
"Yeah, we kind of had this one stuck in our minds after they (the Panthers) beat us last time," said shortstop Josh Sturges, one of four Spartans to hit a home run against West. "We had a feeling that we'd come out and put it to them today."
It started innocently enough as Murray tallied one run in the first inning when Joe Anderson scored on a Sturges sacrifice fly. West answered with two runs of its own in the third inning. Sam Raymond opened the bottom of the inning with a walk before Jake Zumbrennan hit a triple to score Raymond. Zumbrennan came in to give the Panthers the lead on Steve Ely's RBI groundout to second, but Murray then found its groove.
The Spartans batted around the order in the fourth inning as they plated seven runs. Brandt Anderson reached on an error before Sturges hit a two-run homer. Nate Nilson singled and then scored on Zach Owsley's RBI triple. Owsley came in to score on Andrew Torgersen's single, and then both Torgersen and Ryan Matson scored on Matson's inside-the-park home run.
Matson hit a ball into deep center where the West home field has a few contours, a wall and a slope. The ball nestled onto a slope above the wall and gave the fielder a hard time getting around the wall to get the ball back to the infield. Matson never stopped running and slid in safely at home just beating the throw. Joe Anderson followed with a solo home run to end the scoring spree.
"We have faced him a lot (West's starting pitcher Zumbrennan) and we knew that we could get some quality at-bats against him," said Hathaway. "By the second time around the order, we started hitting the ball pretty hard, and things just kind of bounced our way."
West pulled within two in the fifth on back-to-back sacrifice flies by Ely and Steve Hanna, but Murray really put it out of reach in the seventh as Brandt Anderson hit a three-run homer scoring Matson and Joe Anderson in the process.
"We actually have had three games this season where we hit four home runs," said Hathaway. "The guys have really been working hard on their hitting, and today they did all the little things you need to do to win baseball games. They put it in play with two strikes. They advanced runners when they needed to, and they didn't strand a lot of runners. Last time we played them we left a lot of guys on base, and they didn't do that today."
West scored two runs in the seventh on Xavier Archibeque's two-run triple, but it was not enough to overcome the offensive burst by Murray. Torgersen got the win as the starting pitcher for the Spartans, now 6-2 in league play while Zumbrennan took the loss for West.