The Alcovy Tigers stepped out of region play Monday afternoon, traveling to McDonough for a non-region playoff tune-up against the Ola Mustangs.
Despite matching the Mustangs hit for hit, the Tigers wound up on the wrong side of a 6-2 decision on Ola’s Senior Day, giving up a trio of runs in the third and fourth innings.
Alcovy cut into the Mustangs’ lead in the fifth despite mid-80 mph fastballs from Ola reliever Trey Rampy, but Rampy held the Tigers scoreless over the final two innings, dropping Alcovy to 10-16 overall.
The Tigers threw four different pitchers, while giving 14 different players a chance to take a swing, including the return of senior Tristan Payne who had missed much of the season due to a leg injury.
Alcovy head coach Ryan Denison said that despite the loss, the Tigers had much to be proud of heading into their playoff contest this Friday at Kennesaw Mountain.
“We don’t quit and that’s one of the best things about this team,” Denison said. “Even though we’re young and make mistakes, one of the greatest things we’ve accomplished this season is not letting it snowball. The kids stay level and always rebound.
“I was really impressed with pitcher Mark Mostek tonight,” he said. “He came in and did really well over the final two innings. We had a lot of guys throw tonight to get them warmed up for the series at the end of the week and I think it will pay off in the long run. We also saw the return of Tristan Payne tonight. I don’t know how effective he can be in the field, but it was a great boost tonight to have him in the dugout and bring back the leadership qualities he possesses. We’re moving in a good direction heading into the playoffs.”
Down 6-0 after four innings, Alcovy struck for a pair of runs in the top of the fifth frame.
With one out, Alcovy’s Blake Earnest hit a chopper back to Rampy, forcing the Mustangs’ pitcher off the mound. Rampy was unable to field the ball cleanly, allowing Earnest to reach base safely.
Stephen Jordan followed with a single off the end of the bat to right field, putting a pair of runners on the base path.
A passed ball allowed both runners to advance to scoring position and a Zack Hill groundout brought Earnest home, trimming Ola’s lead to 6-1.
During the Tigers’ next at-bat, Rampy was called for a balk, allowing Jordan to cross the plate, but Jordan’s score was the late in the inning for Alcovy, as Rampy got Nanpon Ross to strikeout, ending the inning.
Rampy gave up just a single to Brayden Ergle in the sixth and recorded a spotless seventh inning, sealing the four-run win for the Mustangs.
Mostek also posted a clean sheet over the final two innings, allowing just a walk in the sixth and seventh in relief. Mostek struck out a pair of Mustangs, allowing just a single Ola base runner over the seven batters he faced.
Madison Earnest took the loss for the Tigers after giving up three runs in the bottom of the third after the Mustangs were shutout in the first two frames.
Clay Humphries led off the scoring charge with a one-out double to no-man’s land between the Tigers’ third baseman, shortstop and left fielder, reaching home two batters later on a Carter Perkins’ single. Andrew Sarsany added to the Mustangs’ lead with a two-run bases clearing double over the glove of a diving Jordan in left field, extending Ola’s advantage to 3-0.
Madison Earnest was replaced in the fourth by Blake Earnest, who also allowed three runs to the Mustangs in the inning.
After a lead-off double and a hit batsman, Ola had two runners on with no outs. Blake Earnest fought back against the Mustangs’ offensive attack, striking out the next two Ola batters, but the Mustangs’ Joseph Rushin connected on a pitch and sent it sailing into left field, pushing Ola’s lead to 5-0.
The Mustangs’ Kaleb Hood wrapped up Ola’s scoring with a double to center, scoring the Mustangs’ sixth and final run.
Madison Earnest finish with one strike out in two innings, giving up three runs on four hits.
Sarsany led the Mustangs with a 2-for-3 night at the plate with two RBIs, while Marc Beddington and Dalton Reagin paced the Tigers with two hits apiece.
The Tigers return to action Friday when they travel to Kennesaw to face Kennesaw Mountain in a doubleheader. Game three of the series will be played Saturday at Kennesaw Mountain, if necessary.