After a tournament run that saw the Marion Giants 12U team make strides in a positive direction, it came to an end on Friday, as they fell behind early and could not recover in a 14-4, mercy-rule loss to Bunker Hill.
The Giants, normally a strong hitting squad, could only muster six hits against Bunker Hill. Amar Rogers had two of those hits, both singles, while Tre Brown, Kiontaye Woods, Andrew Monday, and Issac Mitchener also each recorded a hit. Mitchener drove in two of Marion’s four runs with a triple, while Brown and Caleb Richardson also had an RBI.
Bunker Hill’s Zack Wright put together a strong performance, coming away with three hits and four RBI, while Kaleb Shelton drove in three runs. Bunker Hill’s top three batters of Brady Dausch, Bennett Isenburg, and Shelton combined to score seven runs, while Klayton Kile scored twice.
Jon O’Connor picked up the win for Bunker Hill, allowing four hits and three earned runs while striking out four over 3.1 innings of work.
Bunker Hill’s offense found their groove early, sending ten batters to the plate in the bottom of the first. Dausch scored on a passed ball, Wright drove in Isenburg and Shelton with a two-run single, and A.J. Kelly scored Kile with an RBI single of his own.
On multiple occasions, the Giants had a chance to escape the inning unscathed, but errors and a few breakdowns in the field proved costly, putting them in a hole they could not climb out of.
“We came out, we gave up four quick runs in the first inning, and this team – they hit the ball top to bottom,” Marion Head Coach Tino Mitchener said. “When you get a situation like that, then you have to play good defense, and we just didn’t.
“[It’s about] the mental game, baseball IQ, and defense. Until we accomplish those few things, we will beat the teams we should beat.”
In the top of the second inning, Issac Mitchener hit a clutch, two-out triple, cutting Bunker Hill’s lead to two. Shelton got a run back with an RBI double in the bottom of the second, but a Richardson sacrifice fly and a Brown RBI single in the third trimmed Bunker Hill’s lead to 5-4.
That’s as close as the Giants would get, as Bunker Hill put the game away in the fourth inning, sending 13 batters to the plate and scoring nine runs on six hits.
Despite being eliminated, Mitchener was pleased with many aspects of his team’s play throughout the tournament.
“We battled in every single game,” Mitchener said. “This is better than any competition that we have played in a long time. It’s a good litmus test for us, because it shows us where we are at [and] what we need to work on. Every single person contributed in some way during a part of one of these games. We hit the ball well [and] we had some great pitching.”
Next week, the Giants will most likely be back in Bunker Hill competing in the Indiana Small-State Tournament.
“We are probably going to play these same teams again,” Mitchener said. “We know what to expect. We know what kind of pitching to expect. We know what kind of defense we have to play. We should be more prepared.”