Rock Bridge defeats Battle in baseball

Monday, March 31, 2014 | 10:33 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA – Marshall Willingham didn't think it mattered much. And if you were just looking at the final scoreboard, it didn't.

But the Battle junior made program history Monday during his team's otherwise lopsided 17-4 loss to Rock Bridge in baseball.

Willingham launched the first-ever home run for first-year Battle during the second inning. It was the 5-foot-11, 210-pound left fielder's first home run since his freshman season at Hickman. It was a high shot that sailed over the left-field fence, close to the foul pole but obviously fair to its author.

Willingham pumped his fist while trotting between first and second bases. He jumped on home plate with both feet before teammates swarmed him on his way to the dugout.

It was a big relief, he said, since it has been a couple years since he last homered.

The home run would have meant more in a victory, especially since Willingham thinks his team has so much potential.

Coach Jared Wood doesn't expect his team to contend with one of the area's elite teams just yet, but he knew his team could hang around — at least for a little while.

The Bruins, despite losing three straight games to quality opponents in Tennessee, are projected to be one of the top teams in the state.

Battle, meanwhile, might take some beatings this season — as new teams typically do.

"We have no seniors on the team," Willingham said. "Some of our guys are just playing high school baseball for the first time. But I know all those (Rock Bridge) guys. We've been playing since we were young."

The scoreboard wasn't kind to the Spartans, but Wood thought the team showed signs of "brilliance."

After two innings, the Bruins were up 3-2. But after a handful of Battle errors, and with Rock Bridge accumulating hits and stolen bases, the Bruins pulled away.

The Spartans will keep improving with experience, Wood said.

They won't have time to dwell on Monday's loss. Battle takes the diamond against Helias at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Supervising editor is Mark Selig.

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