Mat Mikesell

Beyond the Boxscore: Indians play small ball to manufacture runs

Zeb Riney
By Herald-Whig
Posted: May. 16, 2018 12:01 am Updated: May. 17, 2018 2:31 am

MACON, Mo. -- Clark County baseball coach Jerry Jerome understands his team's best chance to produce offense is playing small ball.

"We don't mash the ball like a Palmyra or Macon or QND does," Jerome said. "We have to get guys on base and manufacture runs."

The Indians played it flawlessly in Wednesday's 3-0 victory over Palmyra in the Class 3 District 8 championship game.

Jerome had four batters lay down sacrifice bunts, and each time turned into a perfectly placed bunt, giving either Palmyra pitchers Jacob Kroeger or Peyton Plunkett the only option to throw to first base.

Three of those bunts helped lead to all three of Clark County's runs.

"We executed to a T today," Jerome said. "If we don't get those bunts down, it's still 0-0. Eventually, (Palmyra) was going to get some runs across, I thought."

In the fifth inning, Chandler Bevans put down a bunt that helped Evan Cameron move to second base. Cameron moved to third on a wild pitch before Logan Gutting hit a sacrifice fly to center and scored.

In the sixth, Tanner Elam but down another sacrifice bunt to more Grant Plenge to second. Plenge moved to third on a groundout and scored on a base hit.

In the seventh, Garrett Brammer laid down a bunt to moved David Lemmon to second. Lemmon moved to third when a pickoff attempt ended up in center field and scored on an error.

Vince Billings also had a bunt that moved Gutting to second base, but he was stranded.

"We work on that, believe me," Jerome said. "We don't hit the ball all over the yard. We executed tonight and put the pressure on them."

Riney's presence in center felt

A shoulder injury hasn't allowed Clark County's Zeb Riney, the 2017 Clarence Cannon Conference Player of the Year, to throw an inning on the mound this season. However, he's still being used for his speed in center field, even if he can't throw the ball back in.

When he does make a catch or a ball comes his way, he either under throws the ball back underhanded or flips it to another outfielder to throw it back in.

"I just was a designated hitter the first half of the season," Riney said. "Then I went in and had to toss it off, and some runners would score. Now my teammates just know to hustle to me and get the ball back in."

Riney's presence in center was felt Wednesday.

He made the first out on Noah Mencer's flyball to him in the bottom of the first inning. He caught all five balls hit his way, including two lineouts. He made the final out on Brock Malone's flyball.

"It's good to have him back out there," Jerome said. "He's a great outfielder and a tremendous athlete."

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