GREENFIELD — Murray put the scare of the season into the Stanton Vikings in the first round of Class 1A District 13 play Tuesday in Greenfield.
Murray raced out to a 6-0 lead in the second inning thanks to some erratic Stanton pitching before coming back to earth and falling 10-9 on a game-winning Keygan Day single to score Tyler Peterson in the bottom of the seventh.
The win propels Stanton into the district semifinals Thursday at Lenox against Nodaway Valley (9-13), which defeated Southwest Valley 8-2 Tuesday in the nightcap of the two games in Greenfield.
“It was great to take them seven. It was great to score nine runs. It was great to play good baseball,” Murray coach Colin Foster said after finishing the last game of his first season as coach.
The Mustangs, who entered 2-19, had only scored six runs three times before Tuesday’s game.
The 6-0 lead — a lead that was gained thanks to four passed ball runs, a Jimmy Graham RBI groundout and a run-scoring Reece Held bloop single — was slowly whittled away as the Vikings took advantage of Murray miscues for three runs in the third, fourth and sixth innings.
“A couple silly errors, a couple,” Foster said. “A couple of questionable decisions to give away a couple outs. That team is good enough to take advantage and they capitalized. We had a chance to keep that game, it probably could have been an 8-1 ballgame.”
A Payton Flaherty run-scoring groundout and a Brycen Wookey single up the box in the fourth made Murray’s lead 8-3.
“We came out and hit the ball hard a few times,” Foster said. “Everybody in the order found a way to get around the bases. It was good to see some of those faces on third base. That hadn’t happened a lot.”
Held entered the game on the mound in place of Graham with an out in the third and pitched the rest of the way.
“He (Held) did a great job on the mound. Jimmy did a great job too,” Foster said. “Lot of strikes. Did exactly what I needed. Got us a lot of ground balls and we didn’t do what we needed.”
But a Drake Johnson single through the left side of the infield, one of his two hits, cut Murray’s lead to 8-6.
Held, who also tripled in the sixth and scored on a passed ball to stretch Murray’s lead to 9-6 at the time, finished a home run short of the cycle and was 3-for-4.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth and runners on first and third, Day, who had just cracked his second of three hits, swiped second base and just narrowly avoided the tag. With Thomas Bates still at the plate, the six-hole hitter bashed a two-run single and Tanner Anderson followed with another single to tie the game.
The wind effectively knocked out of the sails of Murray, Donnie Weis fanned three straight Mustangs after taking over in relief of Colby Royal.
Stanton stepped up to the dish loud, brash, confident and delivered to move on to the district semis.
Flaherty was the lone Mustang senior to finish his career Tuesday night.
“He played shortstop. He played third base. He played center field. We moved him around and he always did what I asked him to. He hit the ball hard a few times. He crushed a home run at Seymour. He cleaned up most of the season,” Foster said.
“He taught the younger kids as much as they could learn and they looked up to him,” he later added.
Stanton improved to 13-5 with the victory.
Stanton 10, Stanton 9
R H E
Murr 060 201 0 — 9 7 4
Stan 003 303 1 — 10 12 1
Murr: Jimmy Graham 3K 3BB, Reece Held (4) 2K 2BB and Brycen Wookey. Stan: Cam Walter 1K 5BB, Colby Royal (2) 6K 4BB 1HBP, Donnie Weis (7) 3K 0BB and Tyler Peterson. W — Weis. L— Held (0-3). HR — None. 3B — Murr: Held 1. 2B — Murr: Held 1. Stan: Walter 1, Johnson 1. RBI— Murr: Graham 1, Held 1, Wookey 1. Multiple hitters — Murr: Held 3, Wookey 2. Stan: Keygan Day 3, Tyler Peterson 2, Johnson 2.