McClain shortstop Hayden Hice attempts to tag a Peebles baserunner in their game Monday night. (HCP Photos/Jim Jones)
McClain shortstop Hayden Hice attempts to tag a Peebles baserunner in their game Monday night. (HCP Photos/Jim Jones)
The McClain varsity baseball team evened their overall record to 2-2 on the season after defeating Peebles, 7-6 in an exciting and nail-biting victory at Hixson Field in Greenfield Monday night.

Freshman Kaden Penwell started on the mound for the Tigers and really kept them in the game, going five-plus innings and giving up only four earned runs on just seven hits with two walks while striking out eight batters.

“Kaden is just a bulldog. He plays shortstop for us when he’s not pitching, and for being just a freshman, he goes out there every time and gets the job done keeping us in ball games,” McClain head coach Kenny Branscom said.

Junior Isaac Smith finished the game and was the winning pitcher, going the final inning and two-thirds and giving up no hits or runs with one walk and three strikeouts.

“Isaac (Smith) came in from right field and did a great job of finishing off the game for us on the mound,” Branscom said. “He came out and really pounded the strike zone and stayed ahead of the batters, keeping them off-balance, which sealed the win for us.”

Peebles scored a run in the top of the first inning, but McClain answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning when Trevor Stonerock led off with a walk and later scored to tie the game at 1-1. Both pitchers did well over the next couple of innings, and the game remained tied 1-1 after three innings were in the books.

After the Indians took the lead with a run in the top of the fourth, McClain was able to take advantage of some control problems by the Peebles pitcher and score a couple of runs on just one hit to take a 3-2 lead.

Mason Ratcliff walked and advanced to second and third on a pair of wild pitches and then scored on a single by Wesley Potts. Potts then ended up at third base after a pair of passed balls on the Indians catcher and scored on another wild pitch.

Peebles tied the game once again in the top of the fifth, but the Tigers came right back with a run on three hits to regain the advantage, 4-3. Stonerock singled with one out and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Penwell brought him in to score with a solid single to center.

Ratcliff then singled to left, moving Penwell to third, but both runners were left stranded after the next two Tiger batters were retired.

The sixth inning saw both teams score three runs, with Peebles having the potential for a huge inning until Smith came into the game for McClain, striking out two of the three batters he faced. Trailing 6-4 in the bottom of the inning, McClain had just one hit, but a two-run single by Penwell scored Carson Spangler and Stonerock. Andrew Potts also walked and came around to score earlier in the inning on an RBI by Hayden Hice.

Smith closed the door in the top of the seventh for McClain on the mound. After giving up a leadoff walk, he retired the next three batters in order, with a pair of strikeouts.

“Our defense showed up today and really seemed to come together,” Branscom said. “We’ve struggled a little both defensively and at the plate, but today the character of this team really showe., I’m really proud of them.”

Batting leaders for McClain were Stonerock, 1-for-1, 3 runs; Penwell, 2-for-4, 2 RBIs, Ratcliff, 1-for-3, run; Smith, 1-for-3; and Wesley Potts, 1-for-3, RBI, run.

McClain’s next game was scheduled for Tuesday, April 6 vs. Green at VA Memorial in Chillicothe. They are set to return home on Wednesday, April 7 to host Washington Court House in their Frontier Athletic Conference opener.