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Warriors overcome slow start to down Lions

Marion to face Hillsboro in regional semis

Staff writer

Warrior baseball coach Roger Schroeder breathed a huge sigh of relief once Monday’s first-round meeting of the Lyons’ regional concluded.

After all, being the top seed and playing in Marion against a winless team should usually be a cakewalk.

That’s exactly what didn’t happen, with the Lyons Lions getting to Warrior starting pitcher Blaine Mermis early to take a 2-1 lead closing out the top half of the second inning.

Fortunately, Schroeder had a plan B in store.

That plan was for the Warrior bullpen to line up for 45 pitches should the starting pitching falter until they won the game.

It worked, with Marion breaking out to a 10-3 win to advance to today’s semifinal against fourth-seeded Hillsboro and a possible regional title game if they win.

“I’m glad to get out of this one,” an exasperated Schroeder said. “For the last month and a half, we’ve been talking about how when we dictate the pace of the game on the mound good things tend to follow.

“We didn’t do a good job of that, plain and simple. You could see it in our defense and our at-bats. We got it later in the game.”

Such as the third inning, when the Warriors exploded for six runs to build a 7-2 lead, sparked by Corbin Wheeler’s leadoff triple.

Chase Stringer got things under control on the mound in the top half of the third, firing a two-hitter in 3.2 innings of work for the win, with Mermis lasting through two.

With the Lions hanging around 7-3 heading into the bottom of the sixth, Marion tacked on three more runs to put the game out of reach.

Garrett Hoffner and Mermis supplied two of Marion’s 12 hits, driving in runs on singles, and Cooper Carpenter made it a 10-3 final with a sacrifice fly.

“Chase and Corbin did an excellent job of giving us opportunities,” Schroeder said. “It wasn’t easy, but it’s not about style points at this point, we just want to live to see the next one.”

That “next one” is today in Lyons in a semifinal showdown with fourth-seed Hillsboro, who vanquished Minneapolis, 12-0.

Game time is scheduled for 2 p.m., with the championship following against either second-seed Southeast of Saline or third-seed Beloit.

Last modified May 17, 2018

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