Polk captures second win in a row with 7-4 triumph over Mitchell

Published 6:25pm Monday, March 24, 2014

Four strong innings by starting (and winning) pitcher Daniel Painter, three fine frames in relief by Morgan Groves, plus a home run, double and four RBIs off the bat of Wes Brady, gave Polk County High School a 7-4 win over visiting Mitchell County on Friday, March 21.

The Wolverines’ second consecutive win put them at 3-5 overall, 2-1 in conference play, and has them playing solid ball.  The Wolverines played Avery on Monday, in a game moved up from today. Results of the Avery game were not available by press time Monday.

In Friday’s game, Painter got two quick outs in top of the first before walking a batter. Next batter doubled  to right, putting runners at second and third, but Painter got a ground-out to end the inning, stranding both runners.

Polk wasted little time scoring. Lead-off batter Bryce Martin lofted a high pop beyond first base. No one got leather on it, as the speedy and hustling Martin reached second with a double.

J.D. Edwards followed with a walk, putting Wolverines at first and second. Mark Mazilli singled Martin home, and took second on the throw to the plate, putting runners at second and third for Brady.

Brady timed a breaking pitch perfectly, and sent it over the fence in left center for a three-run homer and a 4-0 lead for Polk.

Groves fanned, and Trevor Arrowood popped to second, bringing up Damien Cantrell. Cantrell’s quick, level swing ripped a bullet to deep right for two. Painter lined to short to end the inning, but Polk led 4-0.

Painter’s pitches had speed and movement, but he got in trouble in the top of the second. After he walked the lead-off hitter, he got the next man on strikes.

However, a base hit put runners at the corners, and the next batter was safe on an infield error, which scored one run and put runners on first and third.

A steal put Mountaineers on second and third. A ground out to second made it two outs, but chased in Mitchell’s second run, with the back runner advancing to third.

The next batter singled past second for another run, but a high pop to third retired Mitchell. In the home second, Konner Scruggs popped to short to lead off, but Martin served a line drive to right for a single. Edwards flied out to deep left, but Mazilli walked to put runners at first and second.

That brought Brady to the plate, again with two teammates aboard, but the best the Wolverines could do was Martin’s steal of third before Brady’s groundout.

In the top of the third, Painter allowed just one runne, and fanned a batter for out number three.

In the home third, Polk managed two base runners, but was unable to score, still hanging on to a 4-3 lead.

In the visitors’ fourth, Mitchell loaded the bases with just one out, but Painter got the next batter swinging and blew a fastball past the following batter for a called strike three to retire the side.

Painter’s only issue was running deep counts. By then, he’d thrown 88 pitches.

But Painter still had the lead, and was about to get some insurance.

Martin led off the home fourth by beating out a hard grounder to short – his third hit.

Edwards lofted a very catchable fly to left, but the Mitchell left fielder dropped it, putting runners at first and second. Mazilli’s bad-hop grounder scored Martin, and put runners at first and second, with no outs.

For the third time that game, Wes Brady stepped to the plate with two runners on, and for the second time, he crushed the ball. This time, it was a double over the left fielder’s head for one run, to give Polk a 6-3 lead.

Groves, whose starting and relief pitching have propelled the Wolverines of late, and whose hitting helped spark Polk’s recent win over Mountain Heritage, grounded out, but drove in run number seven.

After four, Polk led 7-3. Painter’s high pitch count ended his pitching duties that night, with Groves getting the ball. Groves fanned the first batter in the fifth, hit the second, got another strike out and retired the side on a fly to Tyler Tomberlin in left.

Neither team scored until the top of the seventh, when Mitchell put together a soft line single to center, a groundout that advanced the first batter to second and a ground single past a diving Konner Scruggs at third.

Scruggs had the last say, as the next batter grounded softly in his direction. Scruggs charged, scooped and threw the batter out to end the game.

Putting together back-to-back wins and raising the Wolverines’ conference record “feels good,” Stott said after the games.

If not for five talented students transferring to Madison, who defeated Polk 9-6 recently, Stott said he feels his team would be 3-0 in conference play.

After the loss at Madison Stott said, “We came home with our tails between our legs, and we responded.”

He added he was pleased that Groves could “come in on short rest,” and take over for Painter.

“(Painter’s) 88 pitches is a lot to throw this early in the season,” said Stott.

“We did what we had to do to win an early season game,” Stott continued. “We are coming together. It’s a confidence thing.”

He tells his batters, ‘Walk up there like you own the plate.”

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