Swinging the bats better than it had in any of the first three games, Maryville's baseball team came extremely close to sweeping a doubleheader with Lafayette and Benton Saturday at Phil Welch Stadium.
The Hounds rallied from an early three-run deficit to beat district nemesis Lafayette 14-9 in the first game before losing a back-and-forth game to Benton 6-5 in the finale.
Maryville's bid for a sweep ended when Benton's Dalton Dreier recorded back-to-back strikeouts of Logan Catlett and Eric Sigman with the tying run at second in the seventh inning.
The Hounds fell to 1-4 on the year and 0-4 in games decided by three runs or less.
"We got some runners on. We hit the ball very well," said Maryville head coach Matt Houchin. "We just needed to get one more hit and we would've been fine. We just needed that one more hit."
Benton, which beat Lafayette 11-7 later in the day, took a 4-2 lead away from Maryville with a four-run fifth.
Two sacrifice fly's drove in the go-ahead run and an insurance run that proved to be the difference.
The inning also included a triple, two singles and three walks—two from starter Shane Owens who was lifted with one out in favor of Jarret Cronin.
"Shane threw very well today," said Houchin. "I think he started to get a little bit tired and we knew that. We had pitched him on Tuesday, so it's still early for him. Going five innings, it was time to bring in Cronin."
In the sixth, Maryville used three straight one-out hits to pull within one run. Sigman doubled, moved up to third on a single by Mitchell Worthington and scored on a single by Ridge Yount that made it 6-5.
After Yount's hit, Benton replaced starter Dillon Mattice with Eli Baig.
The lefty retired Jonathan Baker on a pop to short, but hit the next batter Tyler Tripp to load the bases with two outs.
On may have been the game's pivotal play, Shane Owens drove a grounder to second. Benton's second baseman went for the force play at second and narrowly beat Tripp to the bag to end the inning.
"He had a great secondary lead," said Houchin. "Of course from my angle he was safe, but that's not the way it went."
Cronin pitched a scoreless sixth, sending the Hounds to the seventh needing only one run to tie.
Trent Dredge got aboard to open the inning on an error, causing Benton to bring in its top pitcher, Dreier.
He did the job, retiring all three hitters he faced, the last two on strikeouts.
Page 2 of 2 - The seventh was one of just three innings in which the Hounds didn't score.
They got a run in the top of the first to lead 1-0.
Benton tied it in the second inning before a pair of two-out singles from Dredge and Cronin gave Maryville a 3-1 lead in the third.
The Hounds regained a two-run advantage in the fifth on a sacrifice fly from Owens that scored Tripp from third.
Tripp led off the inning with a triple in the gap.
Sigman finished with three hits, while left-fielder Mitchell Worthington had two.
Game 1: Maryville 14, Lafayette 9
A late-inning barrage of runs gave Maryville its first win of the season and the first of Houchin's head coaching career against the team that's knocked them out of districts in the first round each of the last four years.
Trailing by three runs early, the Hounds outscored Lafayette 11-4 over the last three innings.
Maryville took its first lead with a four-run fifth and broke a 7-7 tie with a five-run sixth.
The fifth inning included four Lafayette errors and a two-run double from Jonathan Baker.
In the sixth, he drove in three more with a bases-clearing triple—his second of the game.
"Lafayette has been our Achilles Heel the last three or four years," said Houchin. "It felt really good to get that one. We got down early and the kids just kept fighting. Next thing you know, we started to get a lead, they bobbled a ball and we capitalized."
The Hounds' 14 runs were more than they had scored in the first three games combined.
Maryville finished with 12 hits, with Baker and Cronin providing three apiece. Worthington and Issac Bledsoe each had two hits.
Ridge Yount earned the victory with a 4 2/3 innings of relief. Baker recorded the final three outs in his first appearance since the season opener against Savannah.
The Hounds host East Buchanan today at 4:30 p.m.