By Zack Huffman
No matter the inning, a 9-0 mountain is an obstacle that no baseball team looks forward to tackling. After three scoreless innings, the outlook looked pretty bleak for the Mt. Zion Bulldogs.
Although they were unable to pull out the win, the Bulldogs never backed, fighting all the way to a 13-12 loss against the Towers Titans.
"We showed tremendous heart being down 10-1 going into the fifth inning," said Mt. Zion coach Art Wilkerson. "To comeback and score six runs in the fifth and five more in the seventh was pretty good. I'm definitely proud of their effort."
Mt. Zion came close but was never quite able to get over the gap Towers created early in the came.
"I think we were a little bit lackadaisical in the beginning," said Wilkerson. "We let those guys get too much too soon and it was too much to overcome."
Neither team had any success in the first inning. At the top of the sixth, Towers took the lead with a two-RBI double.
After an unproductive half inning behind the plate, Mt. Zion returned to the mound.
Towers blow open the game in the third inning. The first Titan to step up was thrown out at first after a pop fly. The following five batters would make it home, thanks to three hits, three stolen bases and two walks.
By the time Mt. Zion's defense had forced three outs, Towers was ahead 8-0.
The Titans tacked another run onto their lead in the bottom of the fourth before sending Mt. Zion back to the offensive.
Myles Clark hit a triple, then patiently waiting through two batters before Brandon Mapp sent him home with a single, to put Mt. Zion's first run on the board.
Towers scored their tenth run, in the fifth inning. At this point, Joel Williams had taken over for the Bulldogs on the mound.
When Mt. Zion came back to the plate late in the fifth inning, the Bulldogs were looking at a 10-1 deficit.
Not to be deterred, the Bulldogs exploded on the board, scoring six runs with the help of four stolen bases and two doubles.
Towers began to show fatigue on defense, dropping balls and missing throws. It was only Mt. Zion's caution that made a majority of their hits singles in the inning.
By the time Mt. Zion was back on the mound they were still behind, but had gone from a blowout in the making, to a three-run game.
Marc Threet began the sixth inning on the mound for Mt. Zion. Towers was only able to go three batters deep before giving up three outs.
"My coach told me to go in and throw strikes. That's what I came in to do and that's what I did," said Threet. "I like to consider myself a competitor. I live for situations like that. I'm really glad the coach put me in."
"Threet came in and shut them down with his arm," said Wilkerson.
Towers opened the game back up in the seventh on a trio of runs with two outs on the board. Threet was able to regain control of the game, striking out the Titans' final batter.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the damage had already been done. With just three outs left in the game, Mt. Zion had to score five runs to at least tie the game.
Jared Sanders, Cedric Hathaway, Marcus Swint and Threet all made it home before Towers was able to force a single, bringing the game to a close 13-12.
Luck ran out for the Bulldogs, who were unable to send another player home.
Despite the loss, Wilkerson was positive about his squads performance on the diamond.
"All of our losses have been tight ball games. Although this one did look like it at times, none of them have been a big blowout. I think we're finally starting to build confidence which will really help going into region play," said Wilkerson. "It was a good learning experience and that's the key. As long as these guys are learning and these are having fun, I'm doing my job."
Mt. Zion, who came off a region win against Forest Park Wednesday night, will resume their region schedule tonight when they travel to Griffin.