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Playing in bright sun with a strong wind blowing out at Green Field, the first four innings of the latest Mexico High School baseball outing were definitely entertaining. The last four innings were more suspenseful.
After splitting the main event’s first 14 runs Thursday with district rival North Callaway, the Bulldogs came up with the only score after that thanks to a two-out rally in the eighth for an 8-7 triumph in extra innings.
Grant Jones, who delivered a three-run homer in the Mexico fourth to help the Bulldogs (8-6) recover from a 7-3 deficit, singled in what proved to be the final inning, stole second and (after Kade Melton walked) brought home the game-winner on a Kurt Loyd single.
“There’s a couple of seniors for us who came up big on Senior Night,” MHS coach Keith Louder said. “And Kurt got the win in relief, so that was a happy ending.”
Mexico opened the scoring with a Toby Bracht double and Regan Mudd’s RBI grounder in the second, only to see Collin Brinker single home two runs in the NorCal third. The Bulldogs regained the upper hand, but only for a moment, in the bottom of the third when Jones doubled, Melton walked and Loyd singled them both home.
The game’s biggest rally belonged to the 13-5 Thunderbirds, who scored five runs in their fourth. The big blow in that inning was a two-run homer by Zak Kee. Mexico pulled even with four runs on four hits in its next at-bat with Austin Reed singling in the first run of that inning before Jones homered. Both teams left at least one runner on base in each inning the rest of the way.
“After the North Callaway fourth, I told our guys it was probably going to be one of those high-scoring nights and we needed to keep pace and we did,” Louder noted. “I didn’t think there’d be only one more run before the game was over.”
Evan Woodward threw the first six innings for the Bulldogs and freshman Justin Murphy the first five in his NorCal varsity debut before giving way to Collin Brinker. Jones and Loyd both had three hits of Mexico’s nine hits; the  T-Birds collected 13 hits, including three apiece by Zach Brinker and Jake Anderson. Mexico made four of the game’s six errors.
“I was very pleased with how well Justin pitched,” NCHS coach Kevin O’Neal commented. “He kept us in the game.”
In the JV contest, it was North Callaway 10, Mexico 8. The Thunderbirds led 10-3 going into the Mexico fifth before the 6-8 Bulldogs made it close. Grady Frazier had three hits and Brennan Wells two for the Bulldogs; Jacob Kee had a double, triple and four RBI for the T-Birds, now 8-2.
MHS TENNIS: In another wind-blown Senior Night affair, the Bulldogs blanked NCMC rival Boonville 12-0 in varsity play Thursday at Fairgrounds Park to boost the Mexico record to 4-6/3-3 and give the Bulldogs back-to-back wins for the first time plus a first shutout.
“Coach Nick Hoth and I are proud of the week the boys have had after losing to Marshall on Monday,” MHS coach Jan Pendrak remarked. “They bounced back with two quality wins and a memorable way for our seniors to end their home careers.”
In singles, Brandon Morgan won 10-2, Alex Finck 10-3, Drew Potucek 10-5, Brad Smith 10-5, Andy Weber 10-6 and Ryan Beasley 10-5. Doubles saw Morgan-Finck prevail 10-4, Potucek-Smith 10-0, Weber-Beasley 11-9, John Murphy-Jonah McKeown 10-3, Sean Muckerman-Patrick Muckerman 10-3 and Nick Jones-Ron Case 10-0. Scott Honaker and Mathias Whitworth bagged a 10-1 decision in JV doubles.
MHS SOCCER: Striking early and often Thursday at NCMC rival Hannibal, the Lady Bulldogs came home with a 3-2 victory in a varsity-only trip. Danielle Ingrum scored twice for Mexico (8-7/6-1), while Becca Hotop had a goal and an assist, all in the first 15 minutes or so.
“We played fairly well out of the gate. We earned some chances and got a few well-earned goals. Danielle’s second goal (our third) was a great example of great service from Becca and an outstanding volley to score a great goal,” MHS coach Brad Ellebracht noted. “Hannibal did well to fight its way back into the game; they really took it to us for the last 40-50 minutes.”
MHS GOLF: Thursday at Arthur Hills, Jefferson City shot 164, Boonville 168 and the host Bulldogs 189 in a nine-hole match.
“The fact our varsity players were tired (three matches in four days), combined with looking ahead to district next week, contributed to our lack of competitiveness,” MHS coach Don Fuemmeler said. For his Bulldogs, Elliott Rice led the way with 44, followed by Austin Miller 48, Logan Ray 48, Jared Smiley 49 and Cayce Mongler 55.
Junior varsity scores were JeffersonCity 173, Boonville 195 and Mexico 231. Freshman Jared Melton made his JV debut for the Bulldogs with a 50; Brock Lunceford also carded 50, Ross DeLong 65, Tyler Phillips 66 and Adam Utterback 80.