McLouth heating up this season
Bulldogs post five wins — the most in the 5-year-old program
A young program that's struggled in its early years is starting to make some noise.
The McLouth High baseball team, with an 8-0 win Thursday against Maranatha Academy, upped its record to 5-7 on the season.
Now in its fifth year as a sport at MHS, the five wins the baseball program has achieved mark the most in a single season for the Bulldogs.
"We're playing well," MHS coach Chad Brown said. "We're competing hard, and it's really been a fun season so far."
McLouth opened the season 0-4, but got on track with a doubleheader sweep of Oskaloosa. Since then, the Bulldogs have split against Pleasant Ridge, Atchison County and Maranatha.
"That kind of got the confidence up," Brown said. "We've got great chemistry right now. The kids are playing well and listening and working hard together.
"No negativity whatsoever."
McLouth's most exciting doubleheader of the season likely was April 19 against Atchison County.
The Bulldogs had a 2-0 lead in the first game against Atchison County, but the Tigers won in extra innings. Atchison County scored three in the top of the eighth. McLouth scored one of its own, but fell, 5-3.
In the second game, Atchison County jumped out to a 9-1 lead after one inning and almost put the mercy rule nto effect. Atchison County had a 12-2 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth.
But McLouth didn't disappear.
The Bulldogs scored two in the bottom of the fourth and then erupted in the sixth with eight runs and tied the game at 12.
Ryan Smith hit a two-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth and gave McLouth a thrilling 14-12 victory.
"Once we got to 12-12 the whole attitude of the team was: We're not going to lose. And, by golly, they didn't," Brown said.
Mark Stewart's hit in the bottom of the sixth also was crucial for the Bulldogs.
McLouth was trailing, 12-9, when Stewart stepped to the plate. With the bases loaded, Stewart faced a full count with two out.
Stewart hit a double, which emptied the bases and tied the game.
On Thursday, McLouth dropped its first game to Maranatha Academy, 5-1, but bounced back in the second game with an 8-0 win.
Boone Sorrell threw a complete game, two-hit shutout for the Bulldogs, while Kevin Stewart had four stolen bases in the victory.
The Bulldogs have doubleheaders left May 3 at Pomona, May 5 at Lyndon, May 10 at home against Maur Hill-Mount Academy and May 12 at Valley Falls.
The games against Maur Hill should prove to be another measuring stick for the Bulldogs. Maur Hill is in McLouth's Class 3A regional, along with four other teams -- Atchison County, Oskaloosa, Pleasant Ridge, and Maranatha.
McLouth has played all of those teams and has at least one win against all of them.
That translates into plenty of optimism for MHS as the Bulldogs gear up for the postseason. For the first time in school history, the team could enter the postseason with a winning record.
"Our boys are really excited," Brown said. "They feel like they're playing for something. They never feel like they're out of a game."
Atchison County 5, McLouth 3
Atchison County 000 200 03 -- 5 5 0
McLouth 002 000 01 -- 3 7 5
Pitching: WP -- Todd, ACHS; LP -- Lawson, MHS.
Hitting: MHS -- 2B: K. Stewart (1), Sorrell (1); HR: M. Stewart.
McLouth 14, Atchison County 12
Atchison County 910 200 000 -- 12 13 1
McLouth 200 208 002 -- 14 20 2
Pitching: WP -- Sorrell, MHS; LP -- Hughes, ACHS.
Hitting: MHS -- 2B: Ryan Smith (1), Kyle Sparks (1), Joey Lawson (1), Mark Stewart (1), Spencer Lamborn (1); HR: Ryan Smith (2-run walk-off HR). ACHS -- HR: Hughes (1), Kautz (1).
Maranatha 5, McLouth 1
Maranatha 100 022 0 -- 5 8 0
McLouth 000 100 0 -- 1 6 1
Pitching: WP -- Knapp, MA; LP -- Lamborn, MHS.
Hitting: MHS -- 2B: Sparks (1). MA -- 2B: Cochran (1).
McLouth 8, Maranatha 0
Maranatha 000 000 0 -- 0 2 2
McLouth 302 201 x -- 8 11 0
Pitching: WP -- Sorrell, MHS; LP -- Dull, MA.
Hitting: MHS -- 2B: Lamborn (1), K. Stewart (1); HR: Sparks (1).