Despite losing their first two games of the season, the Munroe Bobcats had to feel like their spring break trip to Jacksonville to play in the P’Town Classic was still very successful. The high-school tournament, hosted by Providence High School, featured several baseball powers including perennial Tennessee state champs Goodpasture Christian, hometown schools Bolles and host Providence, South Fort Myers, and Tallahassee schools Leon and Florida High.
“We knew our streak was likely to come to an end,” said Munroe Head Coach Jayme Williams, “but we got to play against some really good competition. We feel like this will help us as we prepare for districts and hopefully regional play. The pitching we faced was outstanding.”
Arriving in Jacksonville in the morning on March 18, the Bobcats found a soggy field that had received 8 inches of rain in the two days prior, forcing a postponement until Wednesday. The next morning, Munroe took the field against 6A South Fort Myers and wasted little time getting on the scoreboard, as Stephen Miller scored after reaching base with a single to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
Fort Myers responded quickly to take the lead after scoring two in the bottom of the frame. The score remained at 2-1 until the top of the fifth when Bradley Klees singled to drive in Nolan Haire and Miller. Haire, who went the distance on the mound for the win, pitched the final three innings without yielding a hit and the Bobcats’ defense kept Fort Myers at bay for the remainder. Haire tallied four strikeouts to go with four walks and two hits, as his record reached 4-0 for the season. Pacing the offense was Myles Edwards with two hits, followed by Miller, Klees and Haire with one each.
The Bobcats’ second game, played after the Fort Myers game down in Palatka, didn’t go quite as well, as the hosts roughed-up Munroe 7-0.
“Everything that could go wrong went wrong,” said Williams. “We committed five errors, got outhit and didn’t play with a lot of energy.”
The game couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start as starting pitcher Will Harris gave up a pair of hits and the defense committed three errors en route to a 4-0 deficit. Harris would give way to Stephen Miller in the third, as the Bobcats trailed 5-0. Palatka tacked on two more runs for the final of 7-0. Offensively, Munroe scattered four hits and could get only two runners as far as second base.
“We hated to lose, but I think we learned some things in this game,” said Williams. “Sometimes you’ve got to play under adverse circumstances, and traveling an hour to play immediately after a big win wasn’t ideal. We also found out that the better teams could care less about your record!”
Thursday’s game against powerhouse Goodpasture gave the Bobcats a chance to rebound from Wednesday’s lackluster outing in Palatka. The game featured outstanding defense and pitching by both clubs with Goodpasture taking the well-played contest 3-0.
“I was very pleased with how we competed,” said Williams. “We were in it all the way. The difference was that we made a couple of mistakes and Goodpasture capitalized on them. Good teams will do that.”
Goodpasture struck first after getting the lead-off hitter aboard via a walk. The visitors from Madison, Tenn., scored on a ground out after the runner advanced to third on an errant throw. The two teams would blank each other until the fifth when the Cougars scored two on a home run to take a 3-0 lead. The Bobcats threatened in the bottom of the seventh after a single by Will Harris and a walk by Cole Skipper, but a line drive by Stephen Miller that looked like it would go for extra bases was snagged on a leaping catch by the Cougars’ first baseman to end the game. The Bobcats collected five hits on the night, all singles, by Harris, Skipper, Miller, Casey Mathers and Johnny Walkup. Mathers pitched six innings, fanning four and yielding five hits. Myles Edwards pitched the final inning, striking out one.
The Bobcats were on track to return to action Tuesday, March 25, for a district matchup with Tallavana on the road and then return home to Bradford May Field for a second game with Brookwood out of Thomasville, Ga., on Saturday.