PENDLETON — Good teams don’t need much help.
That didn’t stop Pendleton Heights from accepting a little aid from Alexandria in the second round of the Nick Muller Memorial Baseball Tournament on Thursday.
The Arabians (3-4) used a combination of eight hits and five errors by the Tigers (4-2) to score a 6-3 victory and advance to Friday’s semifinals.
“That’s a good team,” Pendleton Heights coach Travis Keesling said of Class 2A No. 3 Alexandria. “I wouldn’t want to play them in the sectional tournament with Blaize Kelly on the mound.”
Kelly, the Tigers’ ace, surrendered three earned runs — his first of the season — and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. He also went 2-for-2 at the plate as the Alexandria bats continued to improve.
But it wasn’t enough to topple the defending champion Arabians, who improved to 7-0 against Madison County opponents in two seasons under Keesling.
The heart of the order did the bulk of the damage for Pendleton Heights. No. 3 hitter Hunter Cook was 2-for-4 with an RBI-double. Clean-up batter Thomas Hall also went 2-for-4 with an RBI-single, and No. 5 hitter Spencer McCool was 3-for-4 with an RBI-single.
That helped the Arabians take a 5-0 lead through the first three-and-a-half innings, and they appeared to be on their way to a rout. But Alexandria rallied in the bottom of the fourth.
Owen Young drew a lead-off walk, and Kelly and Braden Warren each followed with a single to load the bases. Jake Clegg brought the first run home with a slow groundball that Cook fielded and barely won a footrace to first base.
Jonah Jerrils followed with an RBI-single, and Braxton Moore cut the deficit to 5-3 with a sacrifice fly to left field. After a single by Mason Hoke, the Tigers had runners on the corners with two outs. But Jessie Gossett flew out deep to right field to end the inning.