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By Anthony Jones
With two outs and two runners on, all eyes were on Triad’s Nic Funk as he headed to the batter’s box in the bottom of the seventh inning against Mascoutah.
The senior’s plate appearance in the 3-3 tie would never finish however, as a balk was called that scored Isaac Ackerman from third base.
“That’s the first one I think we’ve balk walked off in the years I’ve been here. I feel a little bit bad for the kid, but if it would have been us, they would have called it. He went to his mouth and went straight to the ball on the rubber and you just can’t do that,” Triad’s manager Jesse Bugger discussed the rarely seen finish.
The decisive half inning for the Knights began with Hayden Bugger drawing a leadoff walk. He was replaced by Ackerman on the base paths, who then advanced on a sacrifice bunt from Bady Coon.
Mascoutah elected to intentionally walk the next batter, Carter Vandever, to put two runners on base. His no-pitch at bat was followed with TJ Suter hitting into a fielder’s choice, which was followed by the game’s final plate appearance.
The top of the seventh was not without dramatics either.
TJ Suter began the frame on the mound, recording an out and a walk before being replaced by Funk. Mascoutah walked in their first two battles with the new pitcher to load the bases with only one out.
Funk managed to escape the jam unscathed however, striking the next batter out on three pitches before earning a groundout.
Much of the credit for Triad’s win also belongs to TJ Suter for his work on the mound. The senior entered the game in relief in the top of third after the Indians jumped ahead 3-0.
“I was ready to go. I got prepped and I was ready, I just didn’t expect to be coming in so soon,” Suter said of his lengthy relief outing.
All of Triad’s scoring came across the final three frames. Wyatt Suter and Hayden Bugger opened up the offense with RBI in the fifth, while Funk deliver a game-tying single in the six.
With the win, the Knights improved to 6-0 in Mississippi Valley Conference play. Their gap over the rest of the league has them just one game away from clinching at least a share of the title.
Coach Bugger discussed their undefeated record in conference and the importance of those wins for the postseason, “It’s huge. We’re always looking forward to sectional seeding, so it puts us in a position that we want to be in going into the postseason.”
In the two days prior to their April 26 battle with Mascoutah, Triad played 19 innings across two contests.
The first of those games was the team’s road trip to Mascoutah. Prior to that matchup, the Indians stood at 16-3-1 overall and 3-1 against the conference.
Senior ace Austin Brown’s dominance from the mound was the story of the day in that win, tossing a complete game shutout. He also fanned 14 batters and surrendered just two hits.
His first run support came in the second frame, when the Knights scored off a throwing error. McGrady Noyes added to the lead with an RBI single in the fourth and Donny Becker scored the game’s final run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth to take a 3-0 lead.
In the day between Mascoutah showdowns, Triad visited the Nashville Hornets in a 12-inning affair. The home team entered their meeting with a 17-3 record.
A lone run came for the Knights in the second inning, with Carter Vandever driving Wyatt Suter. This proved to be the visitor’s lone run of the day.
Nashville tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh. Five innings later, they tallied a walkoff run to win 2-1.
Both Drew Winslow and Wyatt Suter tossed five innings in the loss. TJ Suter tossed another frame and Hayden Bugger made his pitching debut as well.