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GREATEST HITS: Karns City’s Lineup Potent in 13-7 Win Over Rival Moniteau

BUTLER, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Josh “Sluggo” Smith wore a huge smile to go with his huge expectations for his Karns City baseball team.

“This group is special,” Smith said.

It’s early, and the season has had its fair share of starts and stops because of the weather, but the Gremlins showed Smith something again in a 13-7 win over rival Moniteau at Michelle Krill Field at Historic Pullman Park on a dreary Wednesday night.

Eight of the nine players in the Karns City lineup had at least one hit. Seven scored at least one run. Seven drove in at least one. The bottom three of the order went 6 for 11 with six runs scored and six RBIs. And Jacob Jones wasn’t sharp, but shook that off to get the win.

“We strung some hits together and guys battled,” Smith said. “I thought our base running was very good tonight. Our two out hitting was great. We eliminated the strikeouts and a lot of guys contributed.”

The matchup was billed the battle of two of the top pitchers in District 9 from a year ago in Jones of Karns City and Dawson Wallace of Moniteau.

Jones struggled in the first inning, walking two and throwing 25 pitches. But he gave up just one unearned run and got out of a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout.

Wallace’s trouble came in the bottom of the second inning when the Gremlins stacked seven hits against him, including one double by Tyler Kelly, to score six times. Wallace threw 37 pitches in that rough second frame.

Wallace, who has committed to play at Slippery Rock University, was chased after that inning and got the loss.

“He’s a three- or four-year starter and he’s going to The Rock — that opportunity doesn’t happen to everybody,” Smith said. “He’s a good pitcher and a very good kid. But we rose to the occasion, and that’s what you have to do when you face someone’s best.”

Jones settled down after the rocky first, but was chased himself in the top of the fifth. He went 4⅓  innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits, striking out four and walking three.

“Jones, you know, he’d be the first to admit didn’t have his best, but he battled,” Smith said. “He battled and didn’t let it affect him.”

It helped he got plenty of offensive production behind him.

Leadoff hitter Hobie Bartoe doubled and drove in three runs; Kelly went 3 for 3 with three runs scored and a pair of RBIs; and Jacob Callihan had a triple as part of his three-hit day.

Kelly, the No. 8 batter in Karns City’s deep lineup, said the hitting is contagious.

“It’s pretty fun because I have confidence in all my guys,” Kelly said. “I just know they’re gonna get to me with guys on and we can hit well. It’s just nice to help our team beat those guys.”

Karns City opened up a 10-3 lead against “those guys” after five innings, but Moniteau rallied with four runs in the top of the sixth inning to make things a little interesting.

Keagan Book had a double, two singles and two RBI, and Connor Ealy also drove in a pair.

Landon Kelly went 2 for 4 with a double and a RBI for the Warriors, who hadn’t played a game since returning from a spring trip to Myrtle Beach.

“We need to pick up the intensity a bit more,” said Moniteau’s Dawson Cook, who also had two hits in the loss. “That’s the big thing that we failed to do last year, too, and it really affected us. We’re gonna come back and keep working on it.”

Cook was one of three Warrior pitches. He relieved Wallace, going three innings, striking out five and giving up four runs — only two earned.

Ealy closed things out for Moniteau.

Mason Sherwin pitched the final 2⅔ innings for Karns City.

“I’ve been around the game a lot,” Smith said. “Almost seven years as a head coach, several as an assistant coach. I played in college. I like the mindset of this team because they care for each other. We have guys picking each other up. They buy into playing for each other.”

The game was also a part of a fundraiser for the family of Mason Martin, the senior football player at Karns City, who suffered a serious brain injury during a game in early September.

Martin is still recovering in a Pittsburgh hospital and continues to make progress.

All proceeds from the game were donated to the Martin family. There were also basket drawings and a 50/50 that raised money for the cause.

Players all wore shirts with a purple No. 2 on the back — Martin’s jersey number — during pregame.