O’FALLON — Northwest left eight runners on base, including stranding the bases loaded twice, as the Mustangs dropped Wednesday’s Class 1 third-place game 9-3 to the Hurley Tigers at T.R. Hughes Ballpark.
Dominant pitching by Hurley’s Travis Scott and errors by Northwest led to a 6-0 score after four innings, but the Mustangs started getting better contact in the fifth.
Truman Leicher singled to right and Tanner Killion walked with one out before Dallas Hammond’s fly ball to shallow left field bounced off the shortstop’s glove to load the bases.
But a strikeout and a groundout to the pitcher ended the top of the fifth.
Northwest also left the bases loaded in the sixth, but it was able to plate a pair of runs beforehand.
Trey Green and Alex Brockman both singled to centerfield between two strikeouts. The runners advanced on the dropped third strike on the second strikeout.
Leicher then walked to load the bases and Killion then hit a grounder to right to cut Hurley’s lead to 6-2.
Hammonds then walked to load the bases again, but interference was called on Killion on Brody Rayl’s grounder to the shortstop to end the inning.
The Tigers added three in the bottom of the sixth and Brockman singled in pinch runner Sawyer Weathers in the seventh to make the final 9-3.
“Credit to the kids, they kept fighting and battling,” said Northwest coach Justin Wiskur. “Two across in the sixth and one in the seventh, so we didn’t just lay down and give up.
“It’s just one of those situations where we were getting those big hits from guys. One through nine was really contributing and when we got runners in scoring position we were counting on a big hit and we just didn’t do it in these two games.”
Scott was letting his defense work early on, inducing four groundouts, two flyouts and a pop out in the first three innings. He stuck out two to close out the second inning.
Ryan Rafferty broke up the perfect game in the fourth with a one-out single to right. He ended up on third when a pickoff attempt went wide of the bag, but a strikeout and a groundout ended the threat.
Hurley shortstop Tucker Moore ran to his left toward the back of the infield dirt to snag Brockman’s grounder up the middle and spun around before making the throw to first for the third out.
The Mustangs had struggled on defense for the second day in a row. After committing seven errors in Tuesday’s semifinal game, Northwest had all five of its errors in the fourth inning.
The Tigers took advantage and scored three runs in the inning.
Leicher started the game on the mound, going 5 1-3 innings. He struck out two, walked four and gave up nine runs on five hits.
“I thought overall he did his job minus the walks,” Wiskur said. “We just didn’t have the defense to back him up (Wednesday).”
Trey Green came in to pitch the sixth inning with two on and one out. He walked the first batter he faced and gave up a single that drove in two runs, but struck out two straight to end the inning.
Northwest ends the season with a record of 13-16.
Next year, the Mustangs will be searching for pitching and a catcher with Green, Leicher and Rafferty graduating.
“It’s tough to lose them, especially two big arms and a rock behind the plate,” Wiskur said. “But we’ll do the best to develop and I appreciate everything they’ve done for me.”