Dixon’s Braden Mahurin was in the zone on a chilly Saturday night at School of the Osage.
He collected three hits and an RBI at the plate with his bat and recorded 12 strikeouts on the mound with his arm to help the Bulldogs knock off Osage 4-3 and capture their ninth straight Osage Wood Bat championship.
“It was pretty enjoyable and it is a lot of fun when baseball goes well. It is not as fun when it doesn’t go as well so you enjoy nights like tonight where you come out, do your thing, be successful for your team and get the championship again,” Mahurin said of the tournament the program has won every year it has been played.
“We have not got to play a whole lot in the last couple of weeks because of all the rain so we would have come out and played in an ice storm if we had to,” he added with a smile. “This is our tournament and we come here and win it every year and continued to do that this year.”
Turns out, his teammates were also locked in on Saturday night and the other two games Dixon played over the weekend. The Bulldogs cruised by Versailles in the opening round 12-0 Friday night and took down Richland 6-0 earlier on Saturday before the finale Saturday night.
“We have not played in two weeks and the boys were anxious to get on the field. It could have been 10 below out and we would have been ready to play so I think we had fun this weekend,” Dixon coach Alex Shelton said of his club. “They did a good job. Our pitching was great this weekend and everyone came in and threw strikes and that is all you can ask from them.”
Good thing, too, because runs were not exactly easy to come by on a night where temperatures hovered around the lower 40s for the finale against the Indians.
The Bulldogs captured the early advantage in the first inning when Sabastian Salais drew a walk and advanced to third on a double from Mahurin before crossing home plate on a wild pitch to go up 1-0.
However, it did not take Osage long to respond as two errant throws in the third inning- an overthrow to first base and a wild pitch- allowed the Indians to bring in two runs and take a 2-1 lead.
Then, the Bulldogs bounced back in their half of the inning as a leadoff double from Walker Shelton was followed up by a single from Salais and an RBI-single from Mahurin. On the ensuing play, Salais also crossed home plate on an errant attempt to pick off Mahurin stealing second. Last but not least, Cyrus Nickels laid down what proved to be a crucial RBI sacrifice bunt to help preserve Dixon’s lead.
“It was tough tonight. Their pitcher was excellent and he was pitch-for-pitch matching us tonight and we just did our best to manufacture a few runs early,” Shelton noted. “We knew it would be a low-scoring ballgame and we came out with one on top so that was good.”
On a night where Dixon only racked up four total hits, that was all the Bulldogs needed as pitching and defense carried the team the rest of the way. Osage had runners in scoring position four more times over the next four innings, but only one came home as the Indians stranded seven total runners on base.
Mahurin went five and two-thirds innings for the Bulldogs, allowing six hits and walking a single batter to go with his 12 strikeouts. Salais came in relief and managed to record the save with two runners on, allowing two hits while picking up a strikeout to seal it.
“It is definitely nerve-wrecking and I’m just glad I got the chance to do it and get the ‘W,’” Salais said of the situation. “We may have been nervous at times, but we got it together.”
The skipper was certainly proud of the efforts of his two hurlers, noting that they have been nice assets to have on the hill.
“They did excellent. Braden and Sabastian both, we have come to expect good things from them,” Shelton posited. “Braden was throwing well tonight and his fastball was working really well tonight. He ran out of pitches unfortunately in the sixth inning, but Sabastian did a nice job of coming in and getting out of the sixth and pitching in the seventh for us.”
It was yet another win in what has been shaping up to be a smooth start for Dixon as the Bulldogs improved to 7-1 with a tournament title to add to the resume. It is a start that Shelton and his club will be more than happy to build upon.
“Anytime you can start 7-1 in baseball that is a good start,” Shelton said Saturday night. “We are a pretty young team this year, but we are off to a real good start and we have a busy week coming up. We have six games this week and hopefully we can just keep on adding.”
Dixon improved to 8-1 with a 17-0 shutout over Laquey on Monday and Mahurin and his teammates certainly have no intention of slowing down anytime soon.
“We’ll look to keep going through this momentum. There are a lot of chances for some wins and we are trying to stockpile those so we’ll see how the season goes,” he said.
The Bulldogs were scheduled to host Crocker on Tuesday and will take a trip to Stoutland on Thursday at 5 p.m.