The Madisonville Mustangs baseball team competed in three exhibition matchups this week in preparation for the Bi-District playoff series against Jasper, which begins with a road game on Thursday.
Madisonville’s second place finish in district earned them a matchup with the Jasper Bulldogs in the opening round. Last season, Jasper advanced to the state tournament out of Region 3. The Bulldogs have lost a number of key contributors since, but still won 16 games and finished third in their district.
“They are a real solid ball club and a well-hitting team,” said Coach Adam Borgfeld. “Our pitching has been really good for the most part, we just need to do a better job on the defensive end. If we can do that, we will have a good chance.”
After Thursday’s opener in Jasper, the teams will reconvene at MHS on Friday night for game two and, if necessary, game three. If the teams split the first two, the rubber match will take place 30 minutes after the conclusion of game two on Friday.
In preparation, Madisonville picked up an exhibition victory over Huntington and also dropped a pair to Central Heights and New Waverly. Until Thursday, they will stay loose and work on repetition in search of a crucial win to open the postseason.
“Game one is the most important in any series,” said Borgfeld. “Plenty of teams come back after dropping the first game, but it is very important. In this case, it can give us more confidence knowing we will be at home on Friday."
Brandon Larson is likely to start for the Mustangs on Thursday night in game one. We are likely to see Brad Rudis do the same at MHS, but nothing is official until the conclusion of the opener.
Madisonville will also have a number of other arms available and got a chance to keep loose in the team’s exhibition matchups.
Last Tuesday, Larson, Max Allen and Dylan Stanley combined for an impressive pitching performance in a 3-2 victory over Huntington on the road. Larson started the game’s first three frames, allowing no runs on three hits and striking out five. Allen and Stanley both logged two innings to close out the night and allowed one run each.
“The purpose of these games is to get some guys on the mound that need work,” said Borgfeld.
Larson also picked up the first RBI for the Mustangs in the bottom of the first inning. Brad Rudis and Danny Young delivered on RBI doubles to lead Madisonville to a 3-2 victory.
On Friday night, the Mustangs dropped a home contest to Central Heights by a score of 7-2. They committed four errors on the defensive side and allowed all of their runs in the opening four innings. Starter Rudis allowed seven runs but only three of them were earned.
Kody Nye was back on the rubber for Madisonville and was Friday’s bright spot with an impressive one-hit performance through 3.1 innings of work, tossing exactly 40 pitches. Larson and Stanley each picked up an RBI for the Mustangs.
On Saturday, Madisonville dropped a 1-0 road contest in New Waverly. Rudis and Max Allen combined for a strong showing on the bump before the playoffs, each recording three innings of work and only allowing one unearned run.
Game one against the Bulldogs on Thursday will begin at 7 p.m. in Jasper.