It’s been a wild couple of weeks for the Patoka High School baseball team, and Monday night’s super sectional game against Goreville was no different. For one, it started at 6 p.m. on Monday and ended shortly after noon on Tuesday. Goreville and Patoka combined for 33 runs and 25 hits, but it was Goreville who came away with the win in the slugfest, 20-13.
"We fought – that’s all you can ask for. We didn’t quit," Patoka head coach Joe Eddy said.
While Patoka’s offense was good enough to win, the pitching made too many mistakes for the bats to overcome. The Warriors’ pitching staff gave up walks or hit batters to lead off five of the seven innings, and four of those batters eventually scored. In total, Patoka issued 11 free passes and committed three errors.
Because of defensive shortcomings, the offense was constantly fighting to come back or hope the lead held up. Goreville started the game with a pair of runs on the top of the first to take a 2-0 lead, but Patoka began to chip away immediately, scoring a run on a single to right field by John Spicer.
Starting pitcher Drew Baldridge was able to get out of the second inning unscathed, striking out two.
Patoka’s offense tied the game and took a 4-2 lead in the second. Zack Wadkins reached on a single and scored later in the inning on a passed ball to tie the game, 2-2, and Luke Murfin hit a two-run single to put the Warriors on top 4-2.
The Blackcats cut the lead to one in the third inning and retook the lead in the top of the fourth with four runs to go up 7-4.
Nick Beard’s two-out single up the middle in the fourth inning was followed by Murfin’s infield single. Zack Thompson and Spicer followed with back-to-back hits, tying the game 7-7.
In the top of the fifth inning, things got out of control, both on the field and in the skies above. Goreville’s first three batters of the inning reached base without getting a hit and all three scored. As the Blackcats rally started, black clouds in the sky cast the field in shadows, and the threat of rain and lightning crept closer. Goreville drove in two more runs to make it five in the inning before the umpires suspended the game due to lightning.
Following an 80-minute delay, the game was suspended until Tuesday at 11 a.m.
"Maybe it’s the best thing for us," Eddy said at the time. "We were a little sluggish in the field. Now if we get a good night’s sleep, we can come back rejuvenated."
With a 13-hour break, Patoka had to think about what was going wrong in the fifth inning, having already given up five runs and only recorded one out. Before the game was suspended, Murfin was brought on to pitch, but allowed two runs to score on passed balls, just another thing for Eddy to sleep on.
"We can score five or six runs. It’s all a matter of stopping them." Eddy said on Monday. "We’re killing ourselves with walks and errors."
On Thursday morning, after the clouds had cleared, the game resumed with Murfin still on the mound and Goreville’s offense still surging. The Blackcats plated five more runs in the top of the fifth before Patoka could get the final two outs.
"Luke’s arm was fine. Energy-wise he was fine; he just can’t stride like he normally does," Eddy said. "He strides longer than he is tall and just couldn’t get all the way out there."
Murfin has been nursing a groin injury recently.
After scoring seven runs on Monday and then having to take an extended break, Eddy wasn’t too worried about the offense getting kick started on Tuesday.
"I had heard enough about Goreville to know that we could hit them. It would come down to whether we could shut them down," Eddy said.
Down 17-7, it was looking as if the Warriors made the 90-minute trek down to Marion for just five outs if they didn’t score at least one run in the bottom of the fifth.
Beard came through for Patoka again, doubling to left field and driving in two runs, making it 17-9. However, Goreville pushed the lead back to 10 with two runs in the sixth frame. Once again fighting to extend the game and the season, Patoka scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to make it 19-11.
In their last at-bat, Goreville pushed across another run to hit the 20-run mark.
Patoka started the bottom of the seventh with a ray of hope, as Beard and Murfin reached base and scored. However, the final three Patoka batters went down, ending the Warriors season.
Murfin went 4-for-5 with a triple and three runs batted in.
Spicer went 2-for-3 with three runs batted in, but did not play in Tuesday’s half of the game. Following Monday’s half, Spicer went to the hospital with soreness in his knee, and doctors discovered torn cartilage. Eddy thinks he hurt the knee earlier in the season and has been playing through the pain.
Beard went 2-for-3 and drove in two runs.
Patoka ends the season 17-10.
"This season is something to build on and if you can’t get excited for baseball after a run like this, then you probably shouldn’t be playing," Eddy said about looking forward to next season already.