In a game that featured only one 1-2-3 frame, base runners were plentiful for both sides in Maryville's season opener with Savannah Tuesday afternoon at the high school.
The Savages did a slightly better job of creating and capitalizing on their opportunities and beat Maryville 6-4, spoiling MHS head coach Matt Houchin's debut.
Savannah (1-0) left nine on base but was able to push at least one across in five of seven innings. The Hounds (0-1) stranded a runner in five of the last six innings over which time they scored just twice more after a two-run first.
Maryville finished with only three hits, all singles, while Savannah had seven and reached base eight additional times on errors or walks.
"I think the guys hung in there," said Houchin. "They worked real hard to minimize innings. There were some opportunities where they had guys on base and we were able to get out of jams. We got some guys on base and didn't get them around and get them in."
A third place finisher in Class 3 last year, Savannah scored single runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to go from a run down to up 4-2. The Hounds made it a one-run game again in the fifth, but Savannah opened up a 6-3 lead in the sixth with a pair of bases loaded walks.
Maryville scored once more with two outs in the seventh and got the tying run to the plate, but Tyler Tripp grounded out to the pitcher to end the game.
"Tough one to lose," said Maryville senior Jonathan Baker. "Opening with Savannah is always going to be tough. They're a great team and their post-season success has showed that the past two years. We knew that going in. I'm definitely pleased with not quitting. We showed a lot of fight in the later innings."
Baker got the start for Maryville and was taken out in the fifth inning with the Hounds trailing 4-2. Baker, who had reached his 80-pitch limit at that point, gave up only two earned runs in 4 2/3 innings, walked two and struck out two.
The strike-throwing hurler was most displeased with the two free passes, the last of which in the third led to the go-ahead run scoring.
"I thought I did well," said Baker. "There's a lot of batters I let go. Coach talked about maybe I threw a curveball when I should've kept with the fastball and kept going on them. You never want to walk guys. That's my goal is to never put a walk on the board. I just got to find the strike zone and things will get going."
Senior Lane Hermelink and junior Isaac Bledsoe worked the final 2 1/3 innings, with each walking in a runner in the sixth.
Page 2 of 3 - Bledsoe inherited the bases loaded jam from Hermelink who allowed his last four batters to reach after retiring the first two of the inning.
"Hermelink came in and did real well," said Houchin. "He just kind of ran out of gas there in the last inning and couldn't find the strike zone. Isaac, after that first batter, got in the zone, got us out of the inning and finished the game for us."
Savannah starter Tyler Wilt was the game's most effective pitcher, allowing just the two first inning runs over four.
Freshman Kydone Wandfluh preserved Savannah's lead in the fifth, and senior Preston Bailey came on to pitch the sixth and seventh.
Baker had two of Maryville's three hits, knocked in a run and scored a run. The other hit was an infield single by Dalton Pistole.
Tripp and Owens drove in Maryville's two first inning runs with outs.
Six of Savannah's seven hits came from the 1-5 spots in the order.
Logan Garrett drove in two runs and had the game's only RBI base hit. Wilt had a double and a single. Lead-off man Taylor Gilbert had a pair of singles and drove in a run.
"They've got some good hitters," said Houchin. "They've got some free swingers. They're going to go out there and attack the baseball. Guys like that, you put it in play all the time and things are going to happen for them."
Savannah produced the game's first run in the top of the first on an RBI groundout by Bailey.
The Hounds tied it in the bottom half on a lineout by Tripp to center that scored Ridge Yount from third.
Owens followed with an RBI groundout to second that scored Baker who got aboard with a bloop single.
Maryville's 2-1 lead held until the third when Garrett came through with a two-out run scoring single through the left side to tie it.
It was Savannah's third hit of the inning.
Owens threatened to put Maryville back ahead in the bottom half, but his deep drive to center with two outs and a runner at first was caught at the warning track.
The Savages took the lead back in the fourth on an RBI groundout by Gilbert.
The inning began with an error and a walk to Chase Simpson after he was down 0-2 in the count.
After the Hounds went in order, Wilt led off the fifth with a double off the glove of a diving Tripp in center.
He went to third on a groundout and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Garrett to make it 4-2.
Page 3 of 3 - Maryville cut it to 4-3 in the bottom half on a two-out throwing error by Savannah's shortstop Clayton McGinness that scored Pistole from second.
Hermelink retired the first two batters of the sixth before a single and two walks loaded the bases.
An ensuing four-pitch walk to Bailey made it 5-3. Garrett walked on a 3-2 pitch from Bledsoe to extend the lead to 6-3.
The Hounds couldn't take advantage of a lead-off walk from Bailey in the sixth and didn't score again until there were two outs in the seventh.
"It's just one of those things where you got to be able to put things together," said Houchin. "Everybody's got to do their job and not try too hard. If we just let it come to us, we'll be fine."
Maryville's next game is Monday at Benton.
The Cardinals, who graduated 12 seniors off last year's team, lost their opener to Bishop LeBlond 15-5 Monday.