With game two and the season on the line, Mason Maxey wanted the ball in his hands.
After Thursday’s game one loss at Kosciusko where the senior gave up four runs on the mound, Maxey not only came in to relieve Friday’s starter Colt Smith, but also got the game-winning hit for the Bulldogs in extra innings, 4-3, to force a deciding game three on Saturday.
“He wanted the ball on the mound, and probably against my better judgment, I gave it to him,” New Albany coach John Walker said. “This is a senior that wants it and didn’t want to end it without the ball in his hand. Then he comes up with two outs and hammers the ball to the wall to win the game.”
“Amazing,” Maxey added. “I gave up four runs yesterday and just felt like I owed it to my teammates to come out here and take care of things tonight.”
The Whippets broke the scoreless tie in the fourth inning, scoring three runs off a fielder’s choice and RBI singles by Ethan Porter and Kenny Barron. New Albany answered that in the bottom half of the inning, scoring three runs with bases loaded.
Neither team could take the win in seven innings, although the Bulldogs had a runners in scoring position in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, but could not capitalize, leaving six runners stranded over the three frames.
“Any time in a game like this where you have opportunities, great opportunities, they made two great plays that got them out of those jams, and for us, it would have been easy to just lay down, but we kept coming back, fighting back,” Walker said. “That’s all credit going to those guys. The things they want to accomplish, they don’t let anyone get in the way of that.”
After retiring three straight Kosciusko batters in the top of the ninth, Easton Hall and Riley Alef were on base with two outs leading up to Maxey’s winning hit. The victory moves the series back to Kosciusko on Saturday, and for Maxey and his fellow seniors, this is the situation they want after Thursday’s tough loss.
“We talked about it last night, if something bad happens, don’t worry about it,” he said. “Last night, we got frustrated because we were hitting the ball, but were hitting it right to them. We decided to come out tonight and just take it pitch by pitch.”
Added Walker, “We didn’t play a bad game down there; that’s a good team that beat us. That hasn’t happened a lot this year, where we’ve played well and lost the game. They knew they hit the ball well, just didn’t get big hits from it, so they were confident coming in to tonight that they could win this tonight.”
Maxey led New Albany with three hits, while Brandon Montgomery had two hits. Smith pitched 7.1 innings, allowing three runs off four hits.
The Bulldogs traveled to Kosciusko for the second time on Saturday and took the series with an 8-7 win.
Riley Alef and Brandon Montgomery each had three hits to lead the Bulldogs’ offense, and Mason Maxey had the win on the mound, entering the game in relief of Montgomery, who allowed the Whippets’ seven runs.
Tied at seven in the sixth, Easton Hall scored the go-ahead run on an error, and the combined pitching efforts of Maxey and Alef shut down Kosciusko, who were unable to capitalize with bases loaded in the sixth inning.
The series between the Bulldogs and Commodores will begin next Friday at BNA Bank Park. The two teams split the regular season series with Lafayette winning, 7-2, on March 23.