HERRIMAN — It’s hard to imagine that despite averaging nearly nine runs per game, Murray hasn’t consistently been able to get consecutive hits from its batting order.
“We’ve struggled to put back-to-back hits together,” Spartans coach Marce Wilson said. “When we do that we’re pretty good.”
On Wednesday, tied 2-2 at Herriman, Murray was once again devoid of corresponding hits. However, that changed in the top of the fifth and along with it the game did, too. Chase Topham slapped a leadoff double and Cam Howe followed suit with an RBI double complemented by an RBI single by Bo Shipley. Three straight hits and "Bamm-Bamm Rubble!" — game over.
The Spartans eventually added two more runs to move into first place in Region 7 with a 6-2 win Wednesday.
“Today it was good to see them string hits in a row,” Wilson said. “The only way we were going to score runs today was if we could do that. (Herriman’s) not going to give us a lot.”
Murray felt it needed to score when it fell behind early, 1-0, after a single by Herriman's Dalton Newbold brought home T.J. Francis.
“They came out with a good pitcher — he’s tough to get runs on — and we knew that,” Wilson explained. “They jumped out to an early lead; we knew that runs were going to be hard to come by.”
The Spartans certainly didn’t waste much time responding, however. The ensuing inning, Shipley grounded into a double play but in the process evened things at 1-apiece. The following at-bat, freshman Zach Collins beat out the throw at first after an error at third, giving Murray a 2-1 lead.
“We were able to run the bases smart. We were able to manufacture some runs and we were recipients of a few errors that benefited us,” Wilson said. “Errors happen in baseball — it’s just if you’re going to capitalize or not, and we were able to capitalize on a few mistakes to get it to where it was.”
The Mustangs knotted the score at 2-2 in the bottom half of the inning on Z Arima’s ground-out RBI before Murray’s outburst in the fifth.
From there, the Spartans loaded up on pitcher Spencer Downs, who improved to 3-0 on the year in a complete-game outing.
“It lets you calm down out there because you’re not worried about what’s going to happen,” Downs said. “You’re just worried about getting outs and not trying to do it all by yourself.”
Facing multiple deficits in the count throughout the game, Downs rallied back by peppering the dish with fastballs.
“Just trying to find the strike zone and throw what they weren’t looking for," Downs said of his approach. "Today it was the fastball."
“He struggled early. He got behind on a lot of batters — that’s not characteristic of Spencer — but he got behind a lot,” Wilson said. “He had to work his way back through 30-40 pitches he didn’t need to throw today. When he throws strikes he’s pretty hard to get good hits on. The later innings he started throwing strikes.”