By Kedrick Storey/Southern Sentinel
FALKNER – The Falkner Eagles needed three games to oust the Wheeler Eagles in a MHSAA Class 1A baseball play-in series. On Saturday, Falkner coach Dustin McMillin pondered one question after his team’s series win.
“Are we going to be the team who played the first two games horribly or are we going to be the team who shut it down in Game 3,” said the first-year coach. “That’s the only question I’ve got right now.”
After taking a 17-9 loss in a wild Game 2 that saw West Union’s Chase Bogue ejected for running over the catcher on a bang-bang play, Falkner got a solid pitching and hitting performance from Wesley Murphy and a 3-run blast from senior catcher Trevor Wilson to win 13-2 and clinch their first playoff series since 2011.
“If we play like we did in the last game, we’ll be fine, if not, we’ll come home early,” added McMillin.
Division 1-1A No. 2 seed Falkner (13-10) will face No. 1 seed Smithville in a best-of-three series that begins Thursday.
Murphy, a junior left-hander who won Game 1, fanned six and a had two RBI-triples. He had a 3-run triple in the bottom of the second, but on a bad West Union throw to third, he scored to make it 6-0. He added a second RBI-triple in the fifth.
Leading 8-1 in the fourth, Wilson sent a fastball over the right field fence to put Falkner ahead 11-1. He thought he only had a double.
“I didn’t think it would get out,” said Wilson. “I got about four steps off first base and I heard coach Walker yell ‘See ya!’”
An emotional West Union coach Ashley Russell was pleased with his young team’s effort to force three games. After juniors Hunter Jennings and Tyler Wooley pitched the majority of the first two, eighth grader Andrew Childers got the start in Game 3.
In Game 2, Jennings, who earned the win, had two doubles and five RBIs for West Union (12-9).