Polk baseball team hopes for playoff invitation, after win

Published 5:50 pm Thursday, May 7, 2015

This quick, compact swing is what Polk's Mark Mazzilli used to double home two runs in the home third against the Asheville Trailblazers on May 6. (Photo by Mark Schmerling)

This quick, compact swing is what Polk’s Mark Mazzilli used to double home two runs in the home third against the Asheville Trailblazers on May 6. (Photo by Mark Schmerling)

It was the kind of baseball game that a coach would like to see at the end of the regular season, especially if the win propelled the team into a high berth in the state playoffs.

Polk County’s varsity team blanked the Asheville Trailblazers, 4-0, on Wednesday, May 6 at Columbus, but beyond the warm feelings among the players is the uncertainty of whether they’ll even see state playoff action.

Dropping contests to conference rivals Owen, on May 1, and Hendersonville, on May 5, put the Wolverines in a precarious position, possibly needing a wildcard selection to join the post-season party.

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Konner Scruggs, whose right arm helped Polk claim important wins through the campaign, got the starting nod against the Trailblazers at Columbus. He did not disappoint.

With one down in the home first, Bryce Martin singled to center, stole second, advanced to third on a groundout, and scored in a novel and heads-up manner involving the visiting catcher walking off the field thinking that the Wolverines had made three outs. Only two men were out.

Technically, that was all that Polk needed, but as Scruggs kept his team in the game, they responded with more scoring.

With teammates on second and third, Polk’s star centerfielder, Mark Mazzilli, smashed a long double to center, scoring two, upping Polk’s lead to 3-0.

Scruggs, meanwhile kept the visitors at bay, eventually whiffing seven batters, and pitching into the seventh.

In the home sixth, leadoff batter Dequan Gary was hit by a pitch, and took second on a good sacrifice bunt by Morgan Groves. Gary alertly took third on Daniel Painter’s fly out to medium left. When J.D. Edwards’s hard grounder was bobbled at short, Gary scored. Edwards was safe at first, but only got as far as third before the last out of the inning was made.

Scruggs fanned the first batter he faced in the seventh, but Daniel Painter took over on the mound, and got two more outs, as Polk had a win.

At Hendersonville on May 5, the Bearcats showed why they are Western Highlands Conference champions, as they scored two runs each, in innings one through five, defeating Polk, 10-0, via the ten-run rule.

After blanking the Trailblazers on May 6, Polk was 9-12 overall, and 5-7 in the WHC.

Always looking ahead, Wolverine coach Ty Stott found some bright sports in players who might help win games next season. One of those bright spots is Zane Johnson, who responded to being called up from the JV team by going 2-for-3 on May 6. Another is Andrew Merriotte, who lashed a hard single in his first at-bat against the Trailblazers.

“It’s something to build on,” Stott said of younger players whom he hopes will fight for starting spots. “We’re capable of scrapping.”

The Wolverines scrapped on Wednesday.

“Today,” Stott admitted, “it was like a new team.”

“It (the Trailblazers) game was a good one for his our seniors,” Stott pointed out, as those players who batted one through six. “All six got lots of at-bats,” Stott remarked. “They all contributed.”

Winning possibly the final game of the season “felt good,” Stott said.

However, he hasn’t given up on this season.

“I really want to go to the playoffs.”