MURRAY — With the way the Spartans were swinging the bats, you might've thought it was a slow pitch softball game.
But it was Murray High's baseball team that was making all that noise Friday afternoon at Ken Price Field.
"We always talk about putting back-to-back hits together, but today we did it," Murray High head coach Marce Wilson said following his team's 12-2 win over Skyline. "It's tough to stop a team when they're putting hits together like that."
Tough to stop indeed.
The Spartans put a 7-spot up on the scoreboard in the second inning, when their first eight batters reached base by spraying base hits all over the ballpark. The big blow came when Zach Collins launched a three-run bomb over the left-center field fence.
"It felt pretty good," Collins said of his homer, which he knew was gone the moment it left his bat. "I've been hitting it pretty good and I'm doing my job, usually.
"Our game plan was to come out with a lot of energy and be sure we jump on them. And we did a really good job at that. We tried to keep on pushing and try and get a bigger lead."
It was more of the same for the Spartans in the third inning, when their first six batters reached base and winning pitcher Cam Howe lofted a two-run shot of his own to roughly the same spot Collins did beyond the park's borders.
The Spartans scored four runs in that frame, helping pave the way for an impressive victory over defending 4A state champion Skyline in a Region 7 rout that was called after five innings due to the 10-run rule.
"Our approach at the plate changed," said Howe, whose team had slipped past this same Skyline team by a score of 10-9 two days earlier. "Guys were getting pitches they wanted to hit instead of chasing.
"It wasn't just a few of us; the whole lineup was hitting today, and that's what helped, getting kids on base and letting the middle of the lineup pick up the RBIs."
At the plate, Howe reached base all four times on two walks, his homer and a single, and he scored three runs. On the mound, he scattered four Skyline hits, allowing just one earned run with six strikeouts and no walks.
"I didn't have as much command today as I normally do with my fastball, so I was getting behind in some counts," said the senior right-hander, who ran his sparkling record to 7-0. "But my defense was playing good for me today, and when you have a 10-run lead, you can just go out there and have fun and don't have to worry about too much — just go out there and throw and have fun."
With its ninth-straight win, Murray ran its region record to 10-2 and its overall record to 14-3, staying in line for a possible league title.
The Spartans slapped around Skyline's pitchers for 17 hits in all, including three each by Collins, Bo Shipley and Logan Jones. Shipley had an RBI double in the first inning and a run-scoring single in the second, and he scored a couple of runs. Jones had a run-scoring single and scored twice, too, while Nick Smart and Preston Hannay each had two hits.
In that second-inning outburst, Chase Topham smacked a two-run single; Jones and Shipley each stroked RBI singles, and Collins crushed his three-run homer.
In the third, after Howe hit his homer with Jones aboard, Hannay drilled an RBI double, and Sage Sutherland dropped in a run-scoring single for the Spartans' 12th run.
Coach Wilson was mighty pleased to see his team's performance in the batter's box.1 comment on this story
"If you take the right approach to the plate, like these guys have been taught and they've been working on it and they did today, they were able to string those hits together and it made a big difference," he said. "We came into the game just hoping to string a few hits together and get a lead and keep our lead. But when a 7-spot gets put up on the board, that makes it a little bit easier on the pitching staff.
"It's always nice to have one of your better pitchers on the mound going. Cam's had a good year for us. He's one of our staples on the mound and he competes and he doesn't give in. He always wants the ball. He's one of those kind of pitchers, so it's always nice to have him going for us.
"We know we've got to get 12 in a row (for the league title), but we play it one game at a time and we play Hillcrest next week," Wilson said. "We'll come at them hard and that's what we need to do if we want a chance at the region championship. We knew three weeks ago that we can't lose another game, so that's what we'll be shooting for and that's what we're working hard for."