MAN — The Man High School baseball team opened up the 2014 season in style with Thursday night’s 10-0, five-inning mercy rule win over the Class AAA Lincoln County Panthers at Man’s Dr. Juan Nordelo Field.
The Hillbillies’ junior left-hander Braden Griffin hurled a two-hit shutout in the five-inning affair. He struckout 11 Panthers and walked none and threw just 65 pitches.
Senior Cayce Mullins gave the Billies the lead for good in the bottom of the first inning with a two-run blast over the scoreboard in left center off Lincoln County starter T. J. Jeffers.
Man goes to 1-0 on the season. The Billies are trying to rebound from last year’s 6-23 campaign.
John Thomas Keffer was also 2-for-2 at the plate for the Billies with two RBI. Joe Rosser was 1-for-1 with two RBI, while Noah Maynard had one hit and two runs batted in as well. Mullins was 1-for-3 with his two-run homer.
Freshman Cameron Simpson also had a hit for Man.
The Panthers’ two hits were a double off the bat of Jake Reynolds and a single by Grant Bates.
Rosser ended the game by ripping a rope down the right field line for a two-run double in the fifth inning.
Man scored two runs in the bottom of the first as Bailey Beckwith led off with a walk and scored on the two-run shot by Mullins.
The Billies pushed their lead to 6-0 in the bottom half of the second frame, sending eight batters to the plate as four would cross the dish.
Mitchell Morris led off with a walk and Simpson then laid down a perfect bunt for a hit. Beckwith fanned for the first out. Maynard then delivered a two-run single to make it 4-0. Griffin walked and Mullins struck out for the second out.
Then it was Keffer who came up with a two-run single to increase the lead to 6-0.
Griffin struck out the side in the top of the third and Man went quietly in order in the last half of the inning.
In the top of the fourth, Lincoln County’s leadoff man reached base safely on an error by Man’s Austin Cook at shortstop. But then Man catcher Mullins threw out the runner trying to steal second base. Griffin then fanned the next two, ending the frame.
Man went out quietly again in the fourth.
In the fifth, Reynolds led off with a double but Griffin then struck out three batters to end the threat.
In the bottom of the fifth Man would plate four runs to end the game early due to the 10-run mercy rule.
Keffer got it started by reaching base safely on an error. Mikle Scott Rowe and Kenny Joe Adkins then drew back-to-back walks to load up the bases.
The Panthers then brought in Jacob Sansom from the Panther bullpen but he walked Thomas Holt, forcing in a run as Man led 7-0.
Cook then walked with the bases still juiced to force in another run as the Billies led 8-0.
LC changed pitchers again and the new hurler struck out Tyler Dunigan for the first out.
Rosser then ended the game early by ripping a two-run double to make it 10-0.
Both teams committed two hits in the game.
The Billies were scheduled to host Charleston Catholic on Saturday afternoon, weather permitting.
Man goes to River View on Monday for a 7:30 p.m. game before hosting county rival Chapmanville on Tuesday at 7. The Tigers beat the Billies 6-0 last year in the only meeting between the two teams.