For the defense: Bearcats bend but don’t break to top Mustangs

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By Brandon Speck

Daily Journal

BALDWYN – Mantachie got the hits. Baldwyn got the win. With a 5-1 win Tuesday night at Latimer Park, the Bearcats tightened their stranglehold on Division 1-2A.

Mantachie had nine hits, but never the big one. Baldwyn’s defense had a lot to do with that behind Dustin Kirk.

“We know he’s going to give us a chance and throw strikes,” Baldwyn coach Shannon Smith said. “All year long, that’s been our thing, defense. We’ve given up less than eight runs in division.”

Mantachie took a 1-0 lead in the second inning after Austin Byrd doubled down the left field line and got to third on an error. Hayden Gordon drove him in.

Baldwyn took advantage of a Mantachie error in the third when with two outs, Tucker Jenkins walked and Tyler Hathcock singled to center. The single skipped past Clay Johnson to the wall as both runners scored.

Mantachie stranded runners at first and third in the fourth inning, thanks to a Kirk strikeout and Dustin Carrell’s hard lineout to Baldwyn third baseman Ryan Wesson. Mantachie had two on with one out in the third, but shortstop Jenkins backhanded a ball and Conner McKay stretched for the final out at second.

“They’re always solid behind me,” said Kirk (5-1). “I know when I go up there, let them hit it and they’ll make plays behind me.”

The Bearcats (10-2, 4-0) added a run in the fourth on Corbin Scott’s sac fly. Justin Lominick and McKay had two of Baldwyn’s five total hits in the inning. In the sixth, Baldwyn scored two runs after two hit batsmen, a McKay single and Matthew Gates bunt.

Nick Burns took the loss for the Mustangs (5-8, 2-2). Quick-working Burns (2-2) struck out five, but also hit four batters.

“We can’t get the big hit. I thought my pitcher pitched a good game,” Mantachie coach Scott Collier said. “We’ve just got to keep working, shoot for getting in the playoffs.”

brandon.speck@journalinc.com