Two of Region 6’s best pitchers, Skyline’s Sam Evans and Murray’s Daniel Brousseau, took the mound to square off against each other Tuesday afternoon.
Although both pitchers put on a solid display, it was Brousseau’s side that gained the edge and secured a 7-5 victory over Evans and the Eagles at Ken Price Field, Murray’s home ballpark.
Brousseau finished with nine strikeouts and three earned runs in six innings, while Evans finished with five strikeouts and two earned runs in just over four innings.
“They’re both very similar,” Murray head coach Marce Wilson said of the two pitchers. “They’re both great competitors. When I found out we were facing Evans I knew we were going to be in for a tough game because of the way he competes. That’s what we got to see today, two very competitive seniors going at each other.”
Brousseau’s moment of the game came at the end of the fourth inning when he threw a strikeout for the third out on a full count with the bases loaded for Skyline. The pitch capped off a great rebound for Brousseau, who finished the inning with two consecutive strikeouts after he struggled to find the zone for most of the frame.
“I gave him the green light to go with what he felt was his best pitch,” Wilson said. “As a coach, you’ve got to trust that he knows better than you at the time what’s working for him, and that’s why I gave him the choice to throw what he wanted to throw.”
Through the first four and a half innings, Evans and Skyline had a one run advantage over Murray when the Eagles elected to make a pitching change after Evans walked Murray’s first at-bat, a change that ended up giving Murray the chance it needed to retake the lead.
Murray scored four of its seven runs in the fifth inning following the change to take the lead, and Murray’s defense made the plays it needed to make in order to hang onto the win over the final two innings.
According to Wilson, a big reason why Murray was able to ultimately hang onto the win was the pitching of Ian Winterhalder, who came on for Rousseau to close the game.
“Winterhalder coming in and pitching brings a lot of confidence to the team because he competes and wants to win, so that gave us the chance to believe that we could win and shut the door,” Wilson said.
While Winterhalder was on the mound, Skyline scored one run off of a sacrifice fly, but a strikeout and a ground out got Murray the remaining two outs it needed to seal the deal.
Murray finished with its first region win of the season despite having more errors than hits, typically a bad combination.
“You can tell it was our first region game,” Wilson said. “Both teams kind of played like it was the first game of the season with a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes.”
Although the Spartans committed more official errors for the game, Skyline’s errors and mistakes were more costly to the final result. Two high, catchable fly balls were misjudged by the Skyline outfielders in the second and fourth innings, which resulted in three of Murray’s seven runs.
Wilson expects that Skyline will clean up the errors and mistakes when the teams meet again on Thursday and hopes that his team will do the same.
“I’m sure they’ll address the uncharacteristic mistakes made on defense,” Wilson said. “I’m sure they’re going to come at us with another good pitcher and I expect runs to be at a premium if we can get them. I don’t think Thursday’s game is going to resemble this game.”