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Fort Zumwalt West breaks even with twin-bill split against Marquette

Fort Zumwalt West junior pitcher Blake McPhee scoops up a grounder in front of the pitching mound during the second game of a baseball doubleheader Saturday,  May 6 at Fort Zumwalt West High School. [Jonathan Duncan/Mid-Rivers Newsmagazine photo]

No one knew what to expect when Marquette took on Fort Zumwalt West in a doubleheader on Saturday. One thing was a certainty.

Both teams were glad to be playing baseball games after a week of limited games or no practice or not playing since the start of the week.

Marquette, which had been out of school the entire week due to the Meramec River flooding that forced the closure of the Rockwood School District, came away feeling some satisfaction thanks to a doubleheader split.

Host Fort Zumwalt West won the first game 2-1, and Marquette rebounded to win the nightcap 2-1.

“That was the positive from today,” Marquette coach John Meyer said. Two teams going at each other in a similar spot in terms of getting out and playing and if your’e gonna have a minimum it should be that you have to come out here with a split. I’m very grateful we were able to do it.”

Fort Zumwalt West (16-13), had not played since beating Francis Howell North on Tuesday and was also glad to get back on the field and get a split in the twin bill.

“The story of the day was we executed just a little bit better in game one and they executed a little better than us in game two,’ Fort Zumwalt West coach Eric Gough said. “They are a dang good ballclub, probably a top 15 team in the area and when they execute a little better than us it’s tough to win.”

In the second game of the day, both teams struggled to put runners on base Marquette’s Carter Defoe and Fort Zumwalt West hurler Blake McPhee threw goose eggs through the first four innings.

McPhee worked into the top of the fifth and was forced to leave due to arm trouble in the top of the fifth after walking leadoff hitter Hunter Miller. “He (McPhee) was shaking his arm a little bit and I went out and talked to him and he said it was a little sore so, I said that’s it, he done. We don’t mess around with that.”

Lefthander Nick Suereth came on in relief and walked Jack Cozart, Jake Hansen then ripped an RBI-single to right and went to second on the throw to third for a 1-0 lead. Hansen’s big hit helped erase the pain of going 0- for 2 before that at bat.

“I was kind of struggling all day and wanted to break through and wanted to see it (the ball) a bit longer,” Hansen said. “I just wanted to see it and try to drive it up the middle and hit it hard and found a hole.”

Marquette (15-4) added a run in the top of the sixth on a base hit from Nick Bulanda to make it 2-0.

Fort Zumwalt West finally touched DeFoe for a run in the bottom of the sixth on Michael Cessna’s run-scoring double down the third base line with one out.

The Jaguars got stopped there as DeFoe retired the next three hitters to strand Cessna on the bases.

“We just got to find a way to execute a little better to get us over that hump in tight games,” Gough said. “It’s good preparation for us for districts.”

DeFoe set down the Jaguars in order in the seventh to close out the second game. “Coming into I had no idea how far I was going to go,” Defoe said. “I got myself going today and was able to throw the curve ball for strikes with all three of my pitches working well and the defense good behind me.”

Zumwalt West won the opener in the bottom of the seventh on a walk-off RBI-hit by Nick Rocco.

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