The Monroe City baseball team battled but ultimately couldn't keep pace with Macon during a 14-4 loss in the Class 3 District 8 quarterfinals Saturday in Palmyra.
The Monroe City baseball team battled but ultimately couldn’t keep pace with Macon during a 14-4 loss in the Class 3 District 8 quarterfinals Saturday in Palmyra.
After a back-and-forth start, Macon piled on to score four or more runs in three different innings.
Monroe City concludes the season with a record of 4-11.
“Going in we knew Macon was going to be a pretty big task for us,” Monroe City coach Derek Vanlandingham said. "We were definitely the underdogs. But just like the whole year, I don’t think we ever quit.”
Macon burst out of the gate for four runs in the first inning to take the lead, striking the Panthers with what could have been an early knockout blow.
Not so fast.
Monroe City responded with four runs of its own in the second to knot the score.
Dawson Shively snuck a single to center field that scored Gavin Lehenbauer for the Panthers first run. Austyn Nevels drew a bases-loaded walk before Joshua Crook drove home Konnor Bridgewater with an RBI infield hit.
Shively came around to score on an error for Monroe City’s fourth run of the frame.
"We got down early and I told the guys, ‘Stay in the ballgame, play with some heart, play with some courage and compete,’” Vanlandingham said. "We scored four to tie the ballgame and I was real pleased. I was proud of that momentum.”
Unfortunately for Monroe City, the game unraveled from that point on.
Macon, led by starting pitcher Cody Roth, shut out the Panthers offense for the rest of the contest.
The Tigers scored in the bottom of the second inning to go ahead 5-4 and grew their lead to 9-4 by the end of the fourth.
Panthers starter Gavin Lehenbauer pitched four innings in the losing effort. He allowed nine runs (three earned) as the Monroe City defense struggled with five errors in the field.
"Our defense wasn’t quite on today,” Vanlandingham admitted.
Macon plated five runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a 10-run lead and end the game by mercy rule.
Despite the loss, Vanlandingham gave credit to his seniors, Josh Underhill and Nevels, for their contributions to the program.
"For Josh and Austyn, my two seniors, I just thank those guys for everything they put into it,” he said.
Going into next season, the first-year skipper said he will continue to put an emphasis on consistency in all facets of the game.
"We showed spurts where we can play with anybody, play good defense and hit well,” he said of the season. "But this is a seven-inning ballgame, and you can’t just have one inning where you just lay an egg. Good teams take advantage, and that’s what Macon did.”