Marion Warriors’ season ends with first-round loss at regionals

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Having a plan doesn’t always guarantee you success.

Such was the case Tuesday when Marion squared up against the Bluestem Lions in the opening round of regional play in Marion.

With the simple desire to “win and advance,” coach Sean Spoonts had arranged his pitching rotation to get maximum efficiency from his young hurlers.

The pitchers did just fine. It was batters who failed to show up, as Marion dropped a 3-1 season-ending decision.

“We played to win the championship, not just the four-five game,” Spoonts said about his strategy of starting Clayton Chamberland on the mound against Bluestem instead of Mitch Enos. “Conceding and winning just one game was not our goal.”

“We had Clayton throwing the first game, and Enos coming in the last two innings, and then Mitch was going to pitch against Hillsboro,” Spoonts said. “Jimmy (Shipman) was going to pitch the championship.

“If you want to win the championship, you have to have a plan. You can’t just settle to win the first game-we didn’t and they beat us.”

Things started great for the Warriors, who pushed across a run in the top of the first inning.

Matt Rhodes singled and moved to third on a single by Chamberland. Spoonts sent the runner from first on a steal, and when the Lions fired the ball to second, Rhodes successfully stole home for the 1-0 lead.

Little did Marion know, that would be their last run of the season.

Marion nearly scored another run when Neil Waner reached base in the second inning and headed for home on a double to left-center by Tyson Heidebrecht. But a perfect relay throw cut Waner down at the plate,.

Meanwhile, Chamberland was in charge on the mound. It wasn’t until the third inning that the Lions bats were awakened.

A lead-off single, a steal and a ringing double tied the game 1-1. Two more hits resulted in two more runs and a 3-1 Bluestem lead.

But Chamberland, after load-
ing the bases on a one-out walk, managed to shut the door on the Lions.

Marion placed two runners on base in both the fourth and fifth innings, but failed to score.

Marion’s last gasp came in the seventh when Rhodes and Enos singled with just one out. But the Warriors could not drive either one of them home.

“We did not hit the ball in key situations,” Spoonts said. “We held them to three runs, and you ought to win the ball game. If you look at (earned-run average) at any level, you ought to win the game if you only give up three runs.

“Chamberland did well,” he added. “We just didn’t get it done.”

With the loss, the Warriors ended their season at 6-11.

With high expectations coming into the season, Spoonts and the Warriors were disappointed to see it end in the first round of regionals, but Spoonts said he saw many positives.

“We were as competitive as I’ve ever seen a Marion baseball team,” he said. “We had one game where we got run-ruled, but other than that, we were in every single game we played this year.

“In the past, we might have won eight or nine games, but we would get beat by 10, 15 or 20 runs in one game of the doubleheader, and that didn’t happen this year,” he added. “I think our competitiveness was definitely a plus this year.

“We just need to work hard this summer and make ourselves better next year.”

Still, the 3-1 loss was a bitter pill to swallow.

“Sometimes games like this happen,” Spoonts said. “I just can’t believe it happened to us today.”

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