ST. MARYS — Murray threw the first punch here Saturday night, but Class 1A eighth-ranked Martensdale-St. Marys absorbed that punch and threw a haymaker right back at the Mustangs in a 17-7 win.
The win gave the Blue Devils the Class 1A District 13 championship, and sends them to Tuesday’s Substate 7 final at Dowling Catholic in West Des Moines against Earlham, with a trip to the state tournament on the line.
Murray, which finished its season with a mark of 7-13, put the pressure on Martensdale-St. Marys early.
Murray leadoff hitter Trey McHenry fired up the Mustangs, when he sent a 2-2 pitch over the fence in left field for a solo home run to lead off the game.
Blue Devil starting pitcher Spencer Hoyka then issued back-to-back walks and was removed from the hill before recording an out.
Tanner Foster came in and gave up an RBI double to Sam Rockhold, and after a strikeout, surrendered a two-run single to Mason Simmons, as Murray bolted to a 4-0 lead.
“That was Trey’s first (home run) of the year,” Murray head coach Travis Held said. “It was a good spot for it. We did that last time against Martensdale. We came out and got three runs in the first inning. And we came out hard here, we just couldn’t keep putting the runs up.”
But Martensdale-St. Marys wasn’t fazed.
“We just said we need to answer back,” Blue Devil head coach Jon Fitzpatrick said. “We don’t need to answer back with four, just one. Kind of shift that momentum back in our favor.”
And that’s exactly what the Blue Devils did, and then some.
Martensdale-St. Marys went on to score six runs in the inning on three hits and two errors. The Blue Devils added five more in the second inning on two hits and two more Murray errors, taking an 11-4 lead.
“I was pleased with how we did respond to that adversity after the first,” Fitzpatrick said. “And not only scored the six there, but we scored some again in the second to extend the lead.”
The Blue Devils had eventually built a 13-4 lead going into the top of the fifth inning.
At that point, it would have been easy for Murray to give in, but the Mustangs rallied to throw one last punch at the Blue Devils.
Daulton Winship drew a leadoff walk and McHenry sent a single up the middle. Then Kenny Boles singled to right field and an error allowed Winship to score.
Braydon Held delivered an RBI single into shallow left field and a Rockhold groundout scored Boles, cutting the lead to 13-7.
“That’s what I told them in the outfield,” coach Held said. “I was proud of them, because they never did give up. We’re playing a tough team and when you give up errors, it’s tough to win. But they never quit fighting.”
Fitzpatrick was also impressed with Murray’s fight.
“We knew they had athletes up and down that lineup,” Fitzpatrick said. “You just look at them and they’re physically defined. I was impressed with the way they battled. I know they had used quite a few pitchers throughout the past several days, so I was impressed with how they battled all through the night.”
Mustang freshman Kenny Boles, who came in to pitch in relief in the second inning, had been having some success against the Blue Devils.
But, in the fifth inning, he fired a pitch toward home plate and immediately fell to the ground, clutching his left throwing arm.
Boles exited the game with the injury.
“He felt his shoulder pop,” coach Held said. “He’s probably going to go tomorrow and get an MRI. Not sure if it’s his rotator cuff or what it is, but he was in quite a bit of pain there.”
Martensdale-St. Marys would go on to end the game by 10-run mercy rule in the sixth inning.
Eddy Kraber, Blake Sweet and Connor Olson each drove in two runs for the Blue Devils, while Foster finished with three hits.
Sam Rockhold was the lone senior on the Murray team, playing his final game for the Mustangs.
“It’s been a joy coaching him,” coach Held said. “He’s a great leader. He keeps everybody going. I think he probably ended up hitting over .500 this year. That’s going to be hard to replace next year.”
Rockhold just missed batting .500 for the season, hitting at a .491 clip. He led the Mustangs with six doubles, two doubles, three home runs and 21 RBI. He was also a perfect 17-for-17 in stolen base attempts.
Martensdale-St. Marys 17, Murray 7
R H E
Murray 400 030 — 7 7 4
MSM 650 222 — 17 13 1
Murr: Daulton Winship 6BB 0K, Braydon Held (2) 2BB 1K, Kenny Boles (2) 0BB 2K, Trey McHenry (5) 3BB 0K and Sam Rockhold. MSM: Spencer Hoyka 2BB 0K, Tanner Foster (1) 0BB 7K, Eddy Kraber (4) 0BB 3K, Dylan Gibson (5) 1BB 0K and Luke Anctil. W — Foster. L— Winship. HR — Murr: McHenry 1. 3B — MSM: Foster 1, Connor Olson 1. 2B — Murr: Sam Rockhold 1. MSM: Kraber 1, Foster 1, Brady Gavin 1. RBI — Murr: Mason Simmons 2, McHenry 1, Held 1, Rockhold 1. MSM: Anctil 3, Blake Sweet 3, Kraber 2, Olson 2, Gibson 1, Foster 1, Alex Kim 1. Multiple hitters — Murr: McHenry 2. MSM: Foster 3, Blake Sweet 2, Kraber 2, Olson 2.