LONE GROVE — Marietta picked up a much-needed win, but not before going through a little bit of a sweat to earn it.
The Indians held off a late Dickson rally to earn a 7-4 win in the first round of the Lake Country Conference tournament Thursday afternoon in Lone Grove.
"Adam Sanchez threw exceptionally well on the mound and the big thing is our kids didn't let down," Marietta coach Erik Hughes said. "I'm real proud of them."
Sanchez put in a strong complete game effort on the mound, throwing seven innings of four-hit ball while striking out 11 batters.
The teams were deadlocked in a scoreless tie for the first three innings until a quick flurry of offense on both sides.
Marietta started off with a run to get on the board in the fourth on a Zac Neely RBI single, followed by a two-run Dickson burst in the bottom of the frame thanks to a clutch two-out, two-run single by the Comets' Garrett Brooks.
The Indians struck back again in the fifth, regaining the lead at 4-2, then added three more in the top of the seventh.
Dickson refused to quit; down to its last out, the Comets loaded the bases and scored two more runs, all with two outs, to close the gap to three.
With his team trying hard to hang on, Hughes recalled the advice he said he's given the team all year long.
"The message all year has been to be relentless," Hughes said. "This was a situation where they needed to do that."
The Indians came through, forcing a final out on a grounder to earn the team's second win of the year.
Travis Hallum finished 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs to lead Marietta, while Travis Choate added two hits of his own.
Lane Gross added a single and a RBI for the Comets, while Chandler Smith took the loss on the mound.
Indians pound Wildcats
Kyle Williams put together a solid outing on the mound and Plainview took advantage at the plate against Madill, routing the Wildcats in a 10-1, five-inning win to open the LCC tournament.
"We've been putting the ball in play, hitting it really good," Plainview coach Brent Hackney said. "But it's the pitching I've been the most pleased with.
"We're really throwing strikes and they're giving up opportunities to stay in the ballgame."
Williams was extremely efficient on the bump, surrendering just three hits while striking out eight batters against three walks.
It was the sort of performance that Hackney has come to expect from the sophomore.
"We knew last year that he was going to have to throw for us this year," Hackney said. "There's no doubt he's our No. 2 right now, and he's one that we know we can count on."
Page 2 of 2 - Plainview's offensive improvements have certainly helped make things easier for its pitching staff. The Indians were once again able to generate some timely hits at key times, including a backbreaking third inning where the Indians plated five runs, four of which came on back-to-back-to-back hits from seniors Chase Brooks, Garrett Foster and James Bowker.
"The offense is really stepping up for us, putting the ball in play," Hackney said.
Bowker smashed a two-run homer in the first in addition to his RBI single in the third, while Brooks finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs of his own.
For the Wildcats, the game was simply one best forgotten; Gage Goff took the loss after three innings of work in which he surrendered nine hits, eight runs (six earned) while striking out two.
Follow White on Twitter: @swhiteARD