University High’s Jacob McCain couldn’t come to a consensus on his own merits of the game.
Whether it was with his bat or crafty right arm McCain enjoyed an all-around impact that helped the Cubs gain a share of the District 7-3A lead.
McCain delivered the key hit during a four-run first inning and threw a complete-game in U-High’s 5-2 home victory Tuesday over Brusly.
“It was probably about equal (Tuesday),” McCain said. “I usually don’t hit as well.”
McCain (2-for-3) tripled in a pair of runs during a first inning in which U-High batted around against Brusly starter Austin Reich. McCain added a run-scoring single an inning later, the last run and next-to-last hit the Cubs (16-7, 4-1) mustered.
“We always preach to our guys coming out and being ready to go from the start of the game,” U-High coach Justin Morgan said. “Against Parkview last week, they scored one run in the first inning and we scored two and that ended up being the deciding factor of the game.”
Brusly (18-6, 4-1) took a 1-0 lead on consecutive two-out doubles from Evan Daigle (2-4) and Austin Watts.
The Panthers loaded the bases with one out after a diving catch by center fielder Seth Daughtery took away a potential hit, McCain got Connor Manola to foul out and Daigle to fly out.
“A bad first inning pretty much hurt us, and we were playing catch up the whole game,” Brusly coach Tait Dupont said. “We couldn’t put anything together. We had an opportunity in the second and didn’t get a run in. You’ve got to score a run right there. I think we’re both good teams. We have to bounce back Thursday to have a shot to win district.”
A throwing error tied the game at 1-all and opened the door for U-High’s pivotal first inning.
Reich (5-2) struggled throughout, walking three and giving up three hits. McCain tripled to the gap in left-center and designated hitter Hudson Eglin added a run-scoring single to left after a walk to Josh Becnel.
Reich recovered nicely, though, and needed only 56 pitches to get through the next five innings after a 42-pitch first inning. He didn’t walk another run after the second and didn’t yield another hit after McCain’s RBI single, retiring 12 of 13 batters until a two-out error and Daugherty’s bunt single in the sixth.
“He got in his groove later,” Dupont said of Reich, who gave up six hits, walked four and struck out seven. “It’s just a bad first inning. I wish we would have had a better first inning because it would have been a one run game.”
McCain (3-3) was equally efficient after the second inning, facing only two over the minimum batters, until Manola’s two-out solo homer in the seventh.
The Cubs also turned a double play in the fifth to back McCain’s eight-hit effort that included two walks and three strikeouts.
“I struggled with my off-speed command early on,” said McCain, who threw 72 of 107 pitches for strikes. “I settled down and started filling it (strike zone) up with my off-speed (pitches), which really kept them off balance.”