MAN — The Man High School baseball team dropped a heartbreaker in eight innings to Liberty Raleigh, 7-6, on Friday night at Man’s Dr. Juan Nordelo Field on Senior Night.
Man had five seniors honored, including John Thomas Keffer, Kenny Jo Adkins, Jake Adkins, Brandon Cook and Brandon Cozart.
The Hillbillies (7-16) took an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning on a three-run homer by Cameron Simpson over the center field fence off Raider starter Trenton Begley.
Liberty bounced back in top of the third inning to take the lead on a grand slam by Tyler Mullens off Man pitcher Austin Gent to take a 4-3 lead.
The Billies tied the game up at 4-4 in the bottom of the third frame as Nick Collins got a two out double and scored on an RBI single by Gent to make it 4-4.
Both teams went out quietly in the fourth and fifth innings of play. The Raiders scored two runs in the top of the sixth inning to take a 6-4 advantage.
Brandon Lemon and Mullens led off with back-to-back single off new Man hurler Dylan Goodman. Goodman had struckout the side in the top of the fifth.
Trenton Begley then had an RBI fielder’s choice to make it 5-4 and Trevor Quarks then got an RBI single to give the Raiders a 6-4 lead.
The Billies rallied and tied the game up 6-6 in the bottom of the seventh off releiver pitcher Zack Martin.
Kenny Jo Adkins led off with a single. Keffer then doubled to make it 6-5. Keffer went to third on a Seth Chapman ground out.
Then with Tyler Blair at the plate Man head coach Larry Vance called for a squeeze play. Blair missed the ball but Keffer was able to slide in safely to tie the game as the ball got by cather Quarks to tie the game up at 6-6. Blair then fanned. Collins and Gent then both singled, putting the winning run on third but Brandon Cook popped up the first pitch to end the frame, putting the game into extra innings.
Coach Vance then brought in Keffer to pitch. He walked the first batter, Begley, then moved to second on a wild pitch. Quarks then grounded out to third baseman Gent but Begley was able to score on an overthrow at third base to give the Raiders what would turn out to be the winning run at 7-6.
Dylan Basham came in to pitch for Liberty in the bottom of the eigth inning.
Freshman Zack Cook struck out. Cameron Simpson then ripped a single. Kenny Jo Adkins then flew out for the second out and Keffer got an infield hit but Chapman grounded out to end the game, giving the Raiders a 7-6 victory and spoiling the Billies’ Senior Night.
The Billies outhit the Raiders 13-6 in the game.
Martin got the win while Keffer suffered the loss.
Man was led in hitting by Simpson who was 3-for-4 with the three-run homer. Kenny Jo Adkins, Gent, Keffer and Collins had two hits each while Brandon Cook and Zack Cook added one hit each respectivley.
The Raiders were led by Mullens with the grand slam and four RBIs as well as a single. Basham, Martin, Lemon and Begley all added one hit each.
Man stranded nine runners in the game. The Raiders had three errors to one for Man.
The Billies are scheduled to open play in their best-of-three Class A sectional tournament with Tug Valley on Monday night at Tug in a 5:30 p.m. contest. Game 2 is Tuesday at Man at 5:30 p.m
The Panthers are just 2-13 on the season heading into the game.