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Big triple, wild pitch delivers dramatic win for Meridian

By Staff
ON THE BALL – Tri-County's Chris Andreas (40) comes in safe to home behind Meridian's Tyler McMullen in Monday night's game at Meridian Community College during the Babe Ruth 1-year-old Southwest Regional. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
Aug. 6, 2002
A pressure packed contest Monday night between the two last unbeaten teams here in the Babe Ruth 14-year-old Southwest Regional produced the game of the tournament at MCC's Scaggs Field.
Whoever lost the intense battle between visiting Tri-County, Texas and host Meridian, faced the daunting task of having to win three straight games over a 28-hour period. For the winner, a respite from having to play a 3 p.m. game against a hot-team from El Dorado, Ark.; and needing just one win out of two chances to advance to the Babe Ruth World Series in Clifton Park, N.Y.
Meridian manager Larry Vick and his staff readily saw the importance of winning Monday night and pulled out all the stops do just that. The gamble of putting the game on the shoulders of Tyler McMullen paid off.
Down 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh, Vick had Kyle Wiggins lay down a one-out bunt on a 2-2 count. Wiggins got down the sacrifice moving Clark Bullock, who had drawn a one-out walk, to second base.
That brought up McMullen who in the top of the seventh saw his 1-2 pitch go awry allowing Tri-County to snap a 3-3 tie and put Meridian in a bind down 4-3.
Facing Tri-County reliever Jason Gurka, McMullen wanted something he could drive and keep the game going. He did just that, ripping a hit that got past a diving center-fielder for a breath-taking triple. Ryan Bennett, running for Clark at second, scored easily to tie the game at 4-4.
Next up was Cordero Eason. In the fourth, Eason hit the shot of the tournament, blasting a solo home run over the 355 sign in left. Tri-County manager Tom Supak was not going to let Eason get another shot.
Unfortunately, Gurka's next pitch hit in front of the plate, bouncing up over his catcher's head allowing McMullen to dart home with the game-winning run.
The 5-4 win means Meridian will get a bye into the championship round. Tri-County must face El Dorado today at 3 p.m. The winner of that game meets Meridian at 7 p.m. Meridian needs to win either the Tuesday night game or have another chance on Wednesday to win the regional.
Vick said he was going to bunt Wiggins even it meant an out.
Tri-County out-hit Meridian 10-6. They were also very effective in the bunt-and-run game which for Vick was a big concern.
Supak was glad to see his team come through with some offense.
Despite giving up the lead in the seventh on his wild pitch, McMullen fanned two of the three batters faced and picked up his second win in the tournament. He was also 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs, the first coming on a single in the first inning that scored Drew Snider.
Tri-County took away Meridian's 1-0 lead with two runs in the fourth after Chris Andreas doubled and scored while Jared Trokacek singled and then scored on a two-out hit by John Wooten.
The lead didn't last long. Eason ripped a 0-1 pitch some 370-feet for a solo homer tying the game at 2-2.
Nathan Peden then walked with one out. Following an error, he then scored on Ricky Gardner's bloop hit that got between three-fielders in shallow center to make it 3-2.
Tri-County answered. Following a hit by Justin Barnes in the sixth, Reece Cernoch laid down a bunt that Gardner threw past the bag at first. Barnes came all away around scoring the tying run at 3-3.
In the top of the seventh, Tyler Pekar led off with a single. He was sacrificed to second and then went to third off a hit by Trokacek.
Andreas, Trokacek and Pekar all went 2-for-4 to lead Tri-County.