Russell Thompson had a stellar performance on the mound and in the batter’s box in Manning-Santee Juniors’ first game of the Lower Region American Legion Juniors state playoffs held July 12 on Monarch Field.
It took just six innings for Manning to take care of Mullins, 10-0.
Thompson faced 20 batters in the six innings on the mound, striking out 11, walking one and hitting two batters. Manning’s outfielders saw no action defensively during the game. All of Mullins’ hits were right at Manning’s infielders who were spot on with their throws over to first. One Mullins’ player was caught stealing in the fourth inning. Thompson allowed just two runners to reach base in a single inning. In the fifth inning with two outs, Thompson walked Mullins’ shortstop and then hit the next batter, their first baseman, with a pitch, putting runners at first and second. Thompson ended the inning striking out Mullins’ right fielder swinging.
Manning scored one run in the third after loading the bases with one out. On a 1-1 count, Mullins’ Austin Faulk hit Chase Lowder sending Manning’s first baseman to first. Jack Kellahan’s bunt resulted in the first out of the inning but advanced Lowder to second. Cagney Brunson followed with a walk and Robbie Heathcott loaded the bases with an infield hit. Davis Martin hit a long fly ball to centerfield scoring Lowder from third. Faulk walked Robbie Page to load the bases again, but Tripp Mason ended the scoring threat with a pop fly to the second baseman.
Manning was three up and three down in the fourth before coming alive in the fifth inning, sending a dozen men to the plate and scoring seven runs with two outs. Kellahan and Brunson grounded out for the first two outs of the inning. Heathcott got things going with a double to right centerfield and moved to third on an error. Martin walked on four pitches. With runners at the corners, Page stroked the second double of the inning to right field scoring Heathcott and Martin. Page moved to third on an error. On a 0-1 count, Faulk hit Mason with a pitch. On a 2-0 count, Thompson hit a single to left centerfield, scoring Page. Hunter Robinson followed with a single to right centerfield, loading the bases. Mason scored followed by Thompson who scored on a wild pitch. With Robinson and Lowder on the base pads, Kellahan stroked a single to right field scoring both runners on base. Kellahan stole second. Brunson walked and Heathcott ended the inning with a 5-3 ground out. With seven runs crossing the plate, Manning was on top of Mullins at the end of five innings, 8-0.
Three up and three down in Mullins’ part of the sixth inning.
Martin led off Manning’s sixth with a single to left field. He moved to second on a walk to Page. Martin stole third and Page advanced to second. Mason flied out to the shortstop for the first out. On a 2-0 count, Thompson helped himself out on the mound by lining a double up against the fence in centerfield to score Martin and Page and end the game on the Mercy Rule.
Early July 13, Mullins forfeited the second game of the three-game first round series of the state playoffs, giving Manning’s Juniors the first round win. The Juniors are now awaiting information on whom and where they’ll begin second round action. Manning could close out the best-of-three series with a win in Mullins.