Warriors trade wins with Wildcats

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Marion/Florence-Peabody/ Burns kicked off the baseball season with a win and a loss Friday at home against Haven.

Marion won the opener 4-3 but lost the nitecap 5-3.

In the opener, pitcher Cody Weerts went the distance, allowing only three hits and one earned run while striking out 11 as first-year coach Shaun Craft picked up his first career win.

“I was really happy with the way Cody threw,” Craft said. “He was still strong at the end and threw over 50 percent strikes, so I was really pleased.”

Weerts hit Haven’s leadoff batter to open the game; he eventually scored to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.

The Warriors answered with a pair of runs in the home half of the inning. Weerts led off with a walk, Calvin Jeffrey struck out but reached base when the catcher dropped the ball and the relay throw to first base was bobbled by the first baseman.

Aggressive base running and a two more Wildcat errors led to two runs without a base hit as the Warriors grabbed a 2-1 lead.

The score remained there until the fourth inning, when Aaron Burnett and Todd Woodruff drew back-to-back walks for Marion. Burnett eventually was thrown out at the plate but Woodruff scored on an error by the catcher to put the Warriors on top 3-1.

Haven bounced back in the top of the fifth with a double and a single to slice the lead to 3-2.

The Wildcats tied the score at 3 moments later courtesy of a Warrior error.

“We didn’t do too bad defensively, but we did have a few errors in that first game,” Craft said. “But we managed to settle down and started making the routine plays. We just needed to get the first game jitters out of the way.”

In the sixth inning, Burnett reached on an error, Woodruff singled, David Deforest walked and Nathan Bishop was hit by a pitch to put the Warriors on top 4-3. That was all Weerts needed as the right hander shut down Haven in the top of the seventh to preserve the win.

The Warriors scored four runs on only two hits-one each from Burnett and Calvin Jeffrey. They stranded four runners on base as Haven committed nine errors.

In Game 2, Woodruff threw a complete-game nine-hitter in the 5-3 loss.

“Todd did an excellent job,” Craft said. “He threw almost 60 percent strikes and was still throwing strong at the end.”

Haven scored one run in the third inning and another in the fifth before the Warriors bounced back with a run in the sixth. Weerts reached base with a one-out single and moved up a base on a Jeffrey sacrifice.

Weerts scored when Haven committed a fielding error, cutting the lead to 2-1 after six innings.

Haven responded with three runs in the top of the seventh with two base hits coupled with a pair of Warrior errors to make the score 5-1.

In the bottom of the seventh, Woodruff led off being hit by a pitch and scored on a Deforest double. Deforest moved to third on a Jeffrey sacrifice and scored on a Derek Benson base hit. But Haven held on for the 5-3 win.

The Warriors had three hits in the game and left three runners stranded on base.

“We had a couple of mental breakdowns and that really cost us the game,” Craft said. “Offensively, we struggled most of the day at the plate and I wasn’t real pleased with that.

“We did start hitting better near the end of the day but, I think it was just because it was our first game against another team’s live pitching,” he added. “I have to remind the guys not to be satisfied after getting that first win but we really did feel good about picking up that win because Haven swept us last year.

“I was really pleased with how we handled the situation when Haven had runners on base.”

The Warriors open the season at 1-1 overall and in the MCAA.

Coming-The Warriors were scheduled to host Nickerson Tuesday before traveling to Hoisington on Friday.

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