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Huebner sparks Leroy to rout of No. 1 Millry

Leroy’s Brayden Huebner fires a pitch during the Bears’ 12-2 win over No. 1 Millry Thursday in Leroy. Huebner struck out 11 and hit an inside-the-park homer. (John O’Dell/Call News)


Millry’s Hisun Marlowe had two hits and an RBI in the Wildcats’ first loss of the season Thursday after they had reeled off 19 straight wins. (John O’Dell/Call News)




LEROY — Brayden Huebner extricated himself from a bases-loaded predicament in the first inning, went on to strike out 11 with his rediscovered curveball, then delivered an inside-the-park home run to lead No. 8-ranked Leroy to a 12-2 win over No. 1-ranked Millry Thursday evening at Pop Powell Stadium.

It was the first loss of the season for the Wildcats (19-1, 6-1 1A Area 1), who committed four errors in the Bears’ eight-run third inning, which Huebner started when he slammed what at first appeared to be a double off the wall in center field but raced home after some sloppy relays from the outfield.

“That’s the worst we’ve played all year,” Millry coach Ed Warrick said. “We didn’t play like we’re 19-0.”

Warrick knows going undefeated in baseball is nearly impossible and it wasn’t going to happen with his team playing disjointed defense.

“When you don’t make routine plays, you’re going to get beat,” he said. “Somebody had to beat us, it just as well been them.”

Leroy (12-7, 5-0) — which had lost four of its last six games coming in — asserted itself with perhaps its best performance against a quality opponent this season. The teams play again Friday in a 2 p.m. doubleheader in Millry with the winner positioning itself for the area championship.

“We talked about being a team,” Bears coach Matt Braun said. “We didn’t let the mistakes bother us. We preached that we can play with anybody if we play our brand of baseball.”

Huebner (3-3) allowed baserunners in every inning but the Wildcats stranded eight and Huebner scattered eight hits and walked only two a week after losing to Millry 11-1 in the Washington County tournament. In that game, Leroy committed five errors. This time, the Wildcats made the crucial mistakes.

Huebner led off the eight-run third with his inside-the-park home run, the Bears’ first homer this season. Then Huebner came to bat for the second time in the inning and lofted a fly ball that right fielder Wesley McIlwain dropped for what would have been the third out after apparently misjudging it in the sun and wind, allowing three runs to score.

“That inning we had four errors and they had two hits and scored eight runs,” Warrick said. “That sums the whole day up. But tomorrow is a new day.”

Leroy scored 12 runs off just six hits but four of those hits came on two-strike counts, including Huebner’s inside-the-park homer.

“We were able to manufacture a few things and we got some key hits,” Braun said. “The two-strike hitting was key.”

Left-hander Hisun Marlowe (3-1) took the loss, giving up seven unearned runs and three hits in 2.2 innings.

“Obviously, nobody had beaten their pitcher all year,” Braun said. “He’s a tough competitor and hard to crack.”

So was Huebner, who quarterbacked the Bears to the last two Class 1A state football championships. Six of his 11 strikeouts were called third strikes.

“I found my curveball,” he said. “I felt like I was more focused than last week. It was an area game we needed.”

Huebner and Braun knew keeping Millry from scoring after it loaded the bases in the top of the first averted an early disaster from which Leroy might not have recovered.

“The first inning changed the whole dynamic of the game,” Braun said. “Give credit to Huebner for his determination to compete. He was solid and we made some big plays behind him.”

Huebner got two ground balls to shortstop Brady Keith and second baseman Keegan Giles for force outs to catcher Sawyer Sullivan at home and struck out J.B. Tate swinging on three straight pitches to escape the inning.

“I knew if I kept throwing strikes, my teammates would back me up,” Huebner said.

Huebner had two hits and two RBIs, John Foster two hits and an RBI and No. 9 batter Andrew Mauldin, after striking out in his first three at-bats, ended the game on the 10-run rule with a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth.

Millry’s Lawson Whigham had an RBI double and Marlowe had two hits and an RBI.

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