Braxton Smith threw a two-hitter, the defense was a lone error away from perfection, and Jake McQueary knocked in four runs Monday, March 28 as Adair County dispatched Monroe County in five innings, 12-2.
The Tribe exploded for five runs in the bottom of the fifth frame to end the contest early. Jake McQueary belted a three-run bomb, Carson Jessie hit a grounder to second that scored Bryce Russell, and Brayton Coomer singled home Connor Loy to walk it off. Monroe County (0-5) didn’t manage to record a single out in the fifth.
McQueary’s blast put the finishing touches on a masterpiece of a day at the plate. The sophomore third baseman and coach’s son was the offensive catalyst for the Indians, going 2-3 with six total bases and four RBI.
“It always makes you feel good,” Ryan McQueary said of his son’s success. “I always try to be a dad first, but as the coach of a son, it’s tough sometimes. I know it’s not always roses for him, but I was proud of the job he did.”
The Falcons managed to keep it relatively close early on, with the Indians holding a 5-3 lead through three innings. Two runs in the fourth and the aforementioned fifth-inning rally improved the Indians’ record to 3-2 on the season.
“More than anything I was just proud of how we bounced back after [Saturday’s loss to Madison Central],” said McQueary. “I guess the big takeaway was—we obviously scored some runs and swung the bats pretty well—but we only walked two guys, and to me that’s just where it’s at. We played nine total innings last night between the [varsity and JV] games and we walked four, so that’s a huge plus for us.”
Smith earned the complete-game win, giving up two runs (one earned) and striking out eight. He was a model of efficiency, needing only 65 pitches—45 of which were strikes—to get through five innings.
“He did well, did a really nice job for us,” McQueary said of his senior right-hander. “I think he got stronger and sharper as he went along, which is good to see.”
Adair only struck out twice in the ballgame. In addition to the younger McQueary’s big night at the plate, Coomer and senior catcher Brian Cornelison each tallied two hits, and Coomer and Jessie each knocked in two runs.
Monday night also served as an opportunity for the JV team to continue its growth. Following the contest, McQueary said that his squad has now given live innings on the mound to all 18 players (out of 21 on the roster) who threw preseason bullpen sessions. While several of the younger arms are still “a work in progress” according to the coach, the opportunity to face live hitters in game situations is expected to pay dividends moving forward.
“You’re always looking for more arms and more guys to step up,” McQueary said. “Having those younger guys get that opportunity, that’s only going to help us as they continue to improve and develop.”