The umpiring crew's decision to continue Monday's conference game with Benton past the fifth inning despite an increasing presence of rain came back to bite the Spoofhounds.
Better handling the elements late, Benton scored six runs in the last two innings off Maryville's top pitcher Jonathan Baker to rally from a two-run deficit for an 8-5 win in a game played through near-constant rainfall.
Maryville fell to 3-6 on the year, 1-2 in the MEC and had a two-game win streak snapped. This was the Hounds' second loss to Benton this year, with the first coming by one run at Phil Welch Stadium.
In both instances, the Hounds gave up a lead of 4-2 after the fourth inning.
"You hate to have a day like this, but it happens," said Maryville head coach Matt Houchin. "It was the same way for them, too. We were up 4-2 going into the sixth. Things were going our way. All the sudden, things happened. We have to do a better job of getting the kids to push through that stuff."
After falling behind by two runs in the fifth, the Cardinals took the lead with a four-run sixth and created breathing room with a two-run seventh.
Both innings contained only two hits, but three of the four came with two outs and drove in runs.
Normally a pitcher with pinpoint control, Baker struggled to command the wet baseball, walking three and hitting two batters during the final 1 2/3 innings of his three-inning stint. Two of those came with the bases loaded, sending in runs.
"In the top half of the sixth, it was probably the worst rain we had," said Houchin. "Our pitcher had trouble gripping the ball and hanging onto it. On a dry day, he's fine. But we have to push through it. We have to get that stuff done."
Baker, who took over for starter Shane Owens in the fifth, recorded four consecutive outs before his outing took a frustrating turn.
With one out in the sixth, he handed out consecutive walks to put two aboard.
The Cardinals loaded the bases on a squibber by Eli Baig to third that a slip-sliding Ridge Yount came up with, but tossed too late to get a force out at third.
Baker hit the next batter, Jacob Foster, to make it 4-3 and walked in the tying run with Jason Kalamon at the plate.
With the bases still loaded and two outs, Dalton Dreier lofted a bloop single into center that scored two and gave Benton a 6-4 lead.
"Jonathan made some good pitches," said Houchin. "He had an easy little bloop ground ball to Ridge and he gets stuck in the mud and can't get his balance. He can't cover the bag. Now they got the bases loaded. You just can't give that stuff up."
Page 2 of 3 - A noticeably frustrated Baker got one of those runs back in the bottom of the sixth with his second RBI double of the game.
This one scored Eric Sigman from second and reduced the deficit to 6-5.
With the rain subsided, Baker retired two of the first three hitters in the seventh, but each of the next four reached.
Jacob Woodcock got aboard with a one-out error on Yount—the first of three in the inning—and moved up to second on a passed ball.
With two outs, Baig lined a single to center, and the ball went under the glove of Tyler Tripp, allowing a run to score.
Foster lined a single down the third base line past a diving Yount to give Benton its largest lead of 8-5.
Yount prevented further damage with a diving stop and unassisted putout at third to end the inning.
"In that seventh inning, we let the ball play us a couple times and we didn't make the plays," said Houchin. "We should've been able to make those."
Owens led off the bottom of the seventh with an opposite field single, but a potential threat was eliminated when Trent Dredge hit into a double play started by Benton junior pitcher Dillon Mattice.
The game ended one batter later on a fly out to right by Jarret Cronin.
Mattice made it through all seven innings to earn the win. He gave up five runs on nine hits and walked four, one of which came with the bases loaded.
Maryville's 1-5 hitters—Yount, Baker, Tripp, Owens and Trent Dredge—combined for all eight of the team's hits. Yount, Tripp, Owens and Baker each had two.
Tripp had a run-scoring double and Owens an RBI single.
Both offenses started strong, producing two runs in the first inning.
The Cardinals got there's on three singles. Tripp made it 2-1 with a double and Owens tied it at 2 with a run-scoring single.
Owens escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second on a double play turned by Jose Mendoza and Baker to keep the score tied at 2.
Each starter put up a 1-2-3 frame before the Hounds went in front in the third.
Yount led off the inning with a single, stole second and scored on a double over the center fielder's head by Baker to give the Hounds a 3-2 lead.
Owens preserved it in the fourth by pitching his way out of trouble again.
With runners at first and third and one out, Baig and Foster each flew out to end the inning. Owens walked the first two batters of the fifth, bringing an end to his four-plus inning stint. He was charged with only two runs.
Page 3 of 3 - "He was having trouble gripping the ball and he was over-throwing," said Houchin. "He was ready to come out."
Baker entered from shortstop and struck out his first batter, Dreier. A ground out to first moved the runners up to second and third.
A passed ball during the next at-bat gave Kalamon a chance to score the tying run.
He beat the throw to the plate with a feet-first slide, but was ruled to have never actually touched it.
Without realizing it, Kalamon began walking bag to the dugout and was tagged out by Baker before he could get back to home.
This momentum-turning play excited the Hound dugout and kept their lead at 3-2.
"He didn't touch the plate," said Houchin. "He missed it. We didn't yell that right away because we didn't want him to turn around and tag the base. We waited a second. Once we got the ball, we said tag him which was a big play for us."
The Hounds added to their lead in the bottom of fifth with only one hit.
A walk to Yount, a hit by pitch and an infield single by Dredge loaded the bases with two outs.
Down in the count 0-2, Cronin fouled off four two-strike pitches before drawing a walk on a pitch in the dirt to bring home Yount for a 4-2 lead.
Logan Catlett struck out looking to the end the inning.
With the rain falling harder than it had all day, the game was allowed to continue into the sixth.
And the Hound lead was subsequently washed away.
Maryville continues its season Wednesday with a make-up game at Savannah. The Hounds head to the Hornet Classic in Chillicothe Friday.