The Mt. Zion High School baseball coach said his team’s 15-10 Region 6-A home setback to Trion exhibited the character and tenacity of his young ball club — it goes down swinging.
Battling toe-to-to with the Bulldogs (11-5, 5-5 Region 6-A) for six innings to a 6-all tie, Mt. Zion (2-14, 1-8 Region 6-A) suffered an exhausting top of the seventh that saw Trion score nine runs — seven earned — on six hits, two walks, two hit batsmen and an error. In all, the Bulldogs sent 14 hitters to the plate and left little doubt of the game’s outcome.
Many teams — especially those as young as Mt. Zion is this season — would have mailed it in during the bottom of the seventh after enduring such a deflating tailspin, but the Eagles had other plans.
Mt. Zion got its first six runners aboard in the bottom half of the seventh, scoring four runs with no outs and getting runners on first and third before Trion coach Jason Lanham made a pitching change.
And though the Eagles’ comeback bid ultimately fell short from that point, it certainly made Arp leave the field with a sense of pride about his ball club.
“I don’t think I could be more proud of a loss than I am right there. They battled their tails off. They fought and fought and fought and fought,” Arp said. “I could not be any more proud of these guys.”
Mt. Zion fell behind 4-0 in the early goings, allowing two runs in the first, one in the second and one in the third before answering with a five-spot in the bottom of the third to take its first lead of the day.
The Eagles got three hits in the inning, including a two-run homer by left fielder Garrett Frazier, who delivered a screamer over the left-field fence, putting MZ up 5-4.
The score remained that way until the top of the sixth when Trion third baseman Cody Brown hit a two-run homer of his own to make it a 6-5 contest in the Bulldogs’ favor.
MZ reliever T.J. Garrett was able to keep the damage minimal, though, getting Dalton Harrelson to strike out looking, leaving the bases loaded.
That would prove huge after the Eagles knotted the game back up at 6-all in the bottom half of the frame after Tristen Puckett — who led MZ at the plate with a 2-for-3 effort — reached base on a one-out single, then came around to score after an error, wild pitch and bases-loaded walk.
And though things wouldn’t go their way in the final inning, the Eagles showed that they can play with some of the upper-tier teams in the region, something Arp has preached to his ball club all season.
“This right here is what they’re capable of. Not the loss itself, but they’re capable of battling anyone. They’re capable of playing any team in this region. And this pretty much proves it to them,” Arp said.