Franklin put together a solid all-around effort and withstood a Whiteland rally in the bottom of the seventh inning to top the host Warriors 6-3 in Mid-State Conference baseball action Thursday afternoon.
This was what coach Ryan Feyerabend and the Grizzly Cubs needed, especially after a heartbreaking 3-2 loss at the hands of league rival Plainfield on Wednesday.
“This was a big night for us,” Feyerabend said. “Whiteland has played a bunch of games (lately), and we have too. We needed this.”
The win keeps the Cubs in contention for the conference title with a 7-3 league record, and it puts Franklin above the .500 mark overall at 10-9.
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Offensively, the Cubs had eight hits — three of them from senior leadoff man Stone Peddycord. Defensively, Franklin didn’t commit an error and turned two double plays to thwart two potential scoring innings for the Warriors.
On the mound, junior Michael Couet went five solid innings, allowing only one run and three hits while striking out five.
“Michael was sharp,” said Feyerabend. “Initially, we were only planning to use him for a couple of innings, but he said he felt good, and Michael was just awesome out there.”
In the second inning, Franklin got consecutive singles by seniors Jerris Lee and Jacob Heuchan, and Isaac McCullough walked to load the bases. A balk scored Lee, and with two out, Peddycord singled home Heuchan and McCullough to give the Cubs had a 3-0 lead.
Franklin scored three more times, one each in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings — the last of those on an RBI double by Heuchan.
Handcuffed for much of the game, Whiteland made it interesting in the bottom of the seventh.
With two runners on, Warrior senior Jeremy Clements was sent up to pinch hit, and he delivered a two-run single to right.
There might have been more runs, but with one out, Franklin catcher Alec MacLennan alertly threw to first and picked off a Warrior runner for the second out.
That erased what would have been a sure run for the Warriors, since Jacob Holzhausen then slapped a single right before Clements hit.
“We can’t give good teams easy outs like that,” said Whiteland coach Scott Sherry. “Especially at that time.”
Lee had two singles for Franklin. Holzhausen had three singles for the Warriors and scored twice.
The Johnson County champion Warriors (12-10, 4-6) are out of the running for a Mid-State title, but Franklin’s hopes are very much alive.
“We have a shot at the conference title,” Feyerabend said with a smile. “That’s all we can ask for.”