By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
HATLEY – Jay King doesn’t want to come back to Hatley this weekend.
Bruce’s senior pitcher struck out five and allowed six hits in an 8-3 win against Hatley on Thursday night in Game 1 of the MHSAA Class 2A North baseball championship series.
Game 2 is tonight at 7 in Bruce. If necessary, Game 3 would be back here on Saturday.
The series winner earns a berth in the state title series next week in Jackson.
“To get this win here puts a lot of pressure on them,” said King, who improved to 8-3. “And I think it’s going to make us step up and play harder tomorrow to get that win on our home field.”
Hatley scored first on a sac fly from Hunter Schrock.
Bruce answered with Wiley Maddox’s sac fly in the second after a single and one of three Hatley errors. Bruce took a 2-1 lead in the third on Jake Yarbrough’s RBI single.
“We struggled a little bit pitching and made some big time errors in the field that were uncharacteristic,” Hatley coach John Harris said. “They did a good job putting the ball in play and when they had runners in position, they made the big hit.”
The Trojans (20-8) broke it open in the fourth against starter Jake Self (5-2). After an error and one of King’s two doubles, Chase Clark was hit by a pitch and Reed Gregory nailed a 3-run home run to left for a 5-1 lead.
“Hatley’s fans were in it. Reed hit it well and you could kind of tell a little air came out,” Bruce coach Josh Dowdy said. “But I know their motto this year is ‘Never give up,’ and they showed it in that seventh inning.”
Bruce tacked on three more. In the fifth, Yarbrough walked and scored on a double from Maddox.
Then against new Hatley (24-4-1) pitcher Josh Carlisle, Bruce added a run on a sixth-inning error and an RBI single from Clark.
Hatley, which will throw its number one starter Russ Johnson tonight, plated a pair of runs in the seventh on a triple from Sawyer Weaver.
“I told my guys the way they played that seventh inning, they’re going to play for seven innings tomorrow night,” Dowdy said.