Griffons take second consecutive victory at home

Saturday, June 6, 2009
Second-year Griffon John Wagle makes a diving catch in the sixth inning of Friday's game against the Mac-N-Seitz A's.--Ralph Pokorny/Herald-Tribune

NEVADA, Mo. -- The Nevada Griffons got back into action Friday night after a much-needed day off, hosting the Mac-N-Seitz Athletics.

The Griffons came into the contest hoping that day of much-needed rest would give them the practice and recuperation time they needed to stay on the winning track. By the time the night was over, the Griffons had given one of their best performances of the year, taking the game by a final score of 11-4.

The A's came into the night having not seen the field yet this year and still had numerous questions yet to be answered. Still in the process of trying to get their full roster of players in, the A's had just one indoor practice and no field time whatsoever heading into Friday night.

Heading into their second season, the A's had just four returning players, but still came into the day with very high hopes for a strong performance this season. "We look good on paper," Assistant General Manager Nate Baker said.

Griffons starter Adam Champion got off to a very strong start on the night as he retired the first nine hitters he faced -- four by strikeouts. Champion got his share of early run support as well, as Jason Houston got the Griffons on the board in the first inning with a two-run home run that gave Nevada a 2-0 lead after the first inning -- his second in as many games.

Champion made just his second appearance and first start of the year in Friday's contest and came into the night with 1 1-3 innings of work under his belt. In his first appearance this year, Champion didn't allow a hit and only surrendered one base runner with a walk, while recording two strikeouts.

The first three innings came and went very quickly for the A's as Champion's dominance on the mound continued. Seemingly able to put the ball anywhere he wanted it, Champion was able to keep a perfect game going through three innings on the mound.

The Griffons were able to pad their lead a bit more in the home half of the second inning as Peter Barrows led off the inning by taking Mac-N-Seitz starter Ray Kelly deep to left field once more. Kelly was able to recover quickly, however, facing just two over the minimum in the inning and holding the lead to 3-0.

Nevada got to Kelly again in the home half of the third as John Wagle was able to lead off the inning with a bunt single that was followed by the third extra-base hit of the night for the Griffons -- a double over the center fielder's head by John Lee. Wagle later came around to score on an RBI groundout by Joe Lincoln to extend their lead to 4-0.

Champion's perfect game was brought to and end in the fourth inning as Nick DeBiasse ripped a double to left center, ending Champion's streak of consecutive batters retired at 11. DeBiasse was able to get into scoring position in the inning, but was ultimately stranded at third thanks to an outstanding play at first by Matt Pitts to keep the A's off the board.

By the end of the fourth inning, the Griffons seemed to have the game well in hand as they added yet another run to their lead in the frame. Matt McLaughlin led off the inning with a double down the left field line -- the Griffons' fourth extra-base hit of the night -- and eventually came around to score as a result of two costly Mac-N-Seitz errors on the next play to extend the Griffons' lead to 5-0.

The A's threatened in the top of the fifth with a leadoff single and stolen base by Mike Garza, but thanks to some good, heads-up defensive play, the Griffons were able to get out of the inning without any damage. The A's had two runners in scoring position in the frame, but came up empty and the Griffons held on to their 5-0 lead.

Through the middle innings, the A's quickly began to see the game starting to slip out of reach. The Griffons were once again able to find the scoreboard in the sixth inning as Lee got his first RBI of the game with a single to center that knocked in Houston to give the Griffons a 6-0 lead.

Champion gave up the mound after the fifth inning, coming out of the game with a very strong performance to add to his record. Champion finished the night without allowing a run or a walk and gave up just three hits with five strikeouts in five innings.

"That's what I was told he could do, so I was impressed with that effort," Griffons head coach Ryan Mannsfield said. "I'm hoping we can continue that throughout the course of the summer. If that is the case, we'll be mighty successful."

Reliever Justin Beal struggled in his first inning of work, hitting two of the first three batters he faced and eventually allowing the A's to score their first run of the game. The Griffons were able to get out of the A's without any further damage, however, and took a 6-1 lead into the home half of the sixth inning.

Kelly gave up the mound in the sixth as well and reliever Rick Carroll struggled early, giving up a leadoff triple to Pitts. Pitts came around to score shortly after as the first balk of the game was called on Carroll.

The A's were able to send the Griffons down quietly for the remainder of the inning, but not before the lead went back to six runs at 7-1. The Griffons didn't take much time to get on the board yet again as McLaughlin hit the third home run for the Griffons -- all of which went to left field -- that opened up the advantage to 9-1.

After loading the bases with nobody out, the A's were able to rally in the eighth inning thanks to some control issues for Beal. By the time the Griffons were able to get out of the inning, they saw their lead decrease to five runs as the A's put up three runs to make it 9-4 heading into the home half of the eighth.

The Griffons were able to find the scoreboard two more times in the game, extending their lead to what would ultimately become the final score of 11-4 in the home half of the eighth inning. "That's the interesting thing right now, the bats are hot," Mannsfield said. "If we can keep them that hot all year long, I will be very surprised, but hopefully we can keep going."

With that victory, the Griffons improved their record to 3-2 on the year and are set to be in action again tomorrow, as they host the Joplin Outlaws at 2 p.m., at Lyons Stadium.

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