The McLean County High School baseball team ended their season with a very close game against the Mustangs in the first round of the 10th District Tournament held at Muhlenberg County on May 20. The Cougars fell 5-4 despite out-hitting Muhlenberg County eight to seven and ended their 2019 season with a 9-19 record.
The Mustangs scored two runs in the first inning and McLean County tied it up in the third before taking the lead 4-2 in the fourth inning. Muhlenberg County plated three more runs in the fifth and held on for the win, 5-4, over the Cougars.
Josh Badertscher went 3-for-3 at the plate to lead McLean County in hits along with stealing two bases and scoring a run. AJ Cline had two hits in three at bats with two RBIs. Peyton Caraway had the most chances in the field with eight, five putouts and three assists. Jacob Miller had six chances and every one was a putout.
AJ Cline took the loss for the Cougars. He surrendered five runs on seven hits over six innings, striking out five and walking zero.
"We battled through some adversity and I'm proud of our team for that, but we made too many errors to win a postseason game," shared head coach Heath Hicks. "Our errors allowed their runners to advance all night, which in turn led to at least two runs. That's the difference in a one-run game. And even then, we had runners in scoring position in the last inning. We just couldn't get that big hit."
By the numbers, this was one of the best teams at McLean County in a long time--highest team batting average in 10 years, second lowest team ERA, second most home runs, and third most stolen bases to name a few notable statistics.
"Where we struggled all season was not taking advantage of the opportunities that we had given ourselves," said Hicks. "We had no problems getting runners on base; we had issues driving them in to take and/or extend leads and that was one of the main reasons why we struggled in the win-loss column."
Coach Hicks expressed his frustration this season. "I think we all expected better. We had a lot of close calls, like this district game and very few of which went our way. That's very difficult for a team to overcome and a lot of that falls on me, but the fact that we were in so many close games all the way until the end shows that these guys did not throw in the towel. They kept battling until the final out and that's a testament to the character of these young men."
Hicks reflected on this season's seniors, "We are going to miss this senior class very much. It has been a joy watching this group grow and the mark they made on this program will never be forgotten."
Looking forward, Hicks had several things to say, "While we didn't reach the main goals that we set for this season, we have a lot to build on moving forward. We had several young players really step up and show us what they could do this season, as well as some veteran guys returning that we expect big things out of next year. That's exciting for the future of this program and we are going to continue working hard on bringing a winning culture back to McLean County High School baseball."