Tigers reliever Loren Carlisle recorded a 1-2-3 shutdown save to secure a 6-4 victory over a team that reached the Class 1 semifinals last year.

The Mark Twain baseball team clung to a slim advantage against Silex entering the seventh inning of an Eastern Missouri Conference game Tuesday night in Center.

The first six frames took a whopping 2 hours, 40 minutes to complete.

In the final inning, Tigers reliever Loren Carlisle only needed 12 pitches for a 1-2-3 shutdown save to secure a 6-4 victory over a team that reached the Class 1 semifinals last year.

“The guys put up the runs, so I felt it was my job to produce some strikes and get some outs,” Carlisle said. “That’s all that was going through my mind. I wasn’t thinking about the pressure or anything else. Just throw strikes, and good things will happen.”

Mark Twain (2-4, 1-1 EMO) scored a run in the first inning and never trailed from that point forward. Leadoff man Parker Eddington reached on a hit by pitch and came around to score on an errant throw after stealing third base.

Mark Twain’s first four batters reached base to knock Silex starter Colton Groshong out of the game before he could record an out.

With the bases chock full, Owls freshman reliever Brian Henke entered the contest and averted disaster by inducing back-to-back strikeouts and a fly out to escape the inning. 

“For us to work counts and get the pitch count up really fast and run him out of the game, that was huge for us,” Mark Twain coach Ian Hatton said of the Silex starter. “We loaded the bases and only scored one, but the momentum was definitely there. The excitement level today was as high as it’s been all year.” 

Eddington singled and scored in the second inning to put Mark Twain ahead 2-0, but Silex (3-1, 0-1 EMO) responded with a run on a sacrifice fly in the third to cut its deficit in half.

Bailey McMillen sparked a Tigers rally in the fourth that broke the game open. The senior tripled to lead off the inning and scored on an RBI single by Corey Kunkel. Moments later, Preston Eckler singled on a fly ball to center field that scored pinch-runner Caleb Peters.

“I’ve been struggling a little bit,” admitted McMillen, who went 2-for-2 with two walks and a pair of runs. “I think everybody has. Just seemed like once we got one bit hit, everything just kind of fell into place. It was awesome for everybody who got to be part of it tonight.”

Refusing to go away, Silex responded to plate two runs in the top of the fourth off Mark Twain starter Kunkel, who ultimately earned the win. 

Groshong smoked an RBI double, and Wyatt Gruenloh was hit by pitch
with the bases loaded to make it 4-3 before the Owls ran into the third
out on the base paths.

McMillen was at it again in the bottom of the fourth, this time tripling home Brady Hooley and later scoring on a line drive single by Eckler to put the Tigers in command 6-3. 

Silex scored on an error the fifth to knock Kunkel out of the contest, but Mark Twain’s defense flashed its leather to thwart any further threat. Second baseman Lincoln Talbott snagged a soft liner and threw to first to beat a base runner back to the bag for a double play to end the inning.

Neither squad scored again, as Carlisle shut the door with four strikeouts during his 2 2/3 innings of work.

“For a guy like that to come out against a team that was a run away from playing for a state title last year and close the door on that game, that shows a lot about his character,” Hatton said of Carlisle, who otherwise struggled to an 0-for-4 day at the plate. 

Mark Twain earned its first conference win of the season after falling by 10 runs at Montgomery County on Monday.

“It shows that when we want to play, we’re capable of doing it,” Carlisle said. “Anytime you can turn around and do something like this after taking a loss like that, it picks your spirits up a little bit.”