A’s finding their stride

MARSHALL – In his first start since June 26, Travis McGlauflin battled through some early rust before finding his groove Friday night. The Marshall A’s right-hander settled in and tossed a complete game, allowing just one earned run in Marshall’s 5-2 win over Coon Rapids.

McGlauflin scattered six hits over nine innings, walking four batters and striking out three, but did not allow a hit after the sixth inning allowing the A’s to pick up the come-from-behind win.

“When he gets down in the zone, he’s tough to hit. It’s the old adage, you don’t have to strike a lot of people out if your defense plays for you,” A’s manager Sean Culhane said of McGlauflin. “Let your defense play, get ahead in the count so that you’re working with what you want and that’s what he did tonight. It allowed him to be effective due to the fact that he didn’t allow them to dictate the count, he did.

” That’s the kind of start we needed especially coming into this a little shorthanded and not having a lot of arms.”

McGlauflin and the A’s worked out of jams in each of the first three innings before Coon Rapids finally broke through in the fourth. Tyler Stein tagged a one-out double and ultimately scored on a fielder’s choice, as Dev Skog’s hustle busted up a would-be inning ending double play.

The A’s answered back in the bottom of the fifth. Doug Mead led off with a single through the infield, advancing to second on a bunt by Ben Sanders. Ben Korger’s two-out single drove in Mead to tie the game.

Coon Rapids tacked on another run in the top of the sixth, taking advantage of two A’s errors in the inning.

The first came as Zach Sather’s snuck a ground ball under the glove of Mason Schnaible at third base. Sather reached second on a single by Skog and began pestering the A’s with a large lead. Catcher Tanner Neale tried to catch Sather leaning, but the throw caromed into the outfield as Sather scored on a two-base error.

Marshall shook off the miscue, tying the game at 2-2 on a two-out single by Mead in the bottom half of the sixth.

Both the A’s defense and McGlauflin locked down from there on out, allowing just three batters to reach base (all on walks). In the meantime, the A’s offense continued to put the ball in play, scoring two runs in the seventh and one in the eighth to take a three-run lead and extending their winning streak to five games.

“You’re kind of putting things together and that’s what you’ve got to do. Baseball is fun when you’re playing well,” Culhane said. “We’ve seen the not so well this year too. When you start playing well it becomes contagious. I think we played as a unit. We had a few errors, but it’s not the end of the world. What they did was play effective. We made big outs when we needed to make big outs.”

Both Marshall runs in the seventh came with two outs. Zach Olson, who finished the night 2-for-4, started the rally with a single and scored from first on a crushed double by Andrew Kinney. Kinney scored on a error in the next at-bat, as Tanner Neale’s grounder evaded the mitt of Coon Rapids second baseman Adam Wedwick, and went 2-for-4 with two runs, a double and an RBI.

Mead had the other multi-hit game for the A’s, finishing 2-for-3 with an RBI. The Marshall center fielder also scored twice, including Marshall’s fifth-run in the eighth.

Playing their first Class B competition of the season, the A’s looked to have an extra hop in their step. A good sign for Culhane and his team, especially with just five games remaining in the regular season.

“We talked about it and I just said, ‘Fellas, we’re going to get judged by how we play Class B teams. We don’t play enough so you’ve got to win when you play them.’ I wish we had the opportunity to play them twice,” Culhane said. “It’s a big win for us and proves that we can play with them. They’ve been having a good year and they’ve beat some good teams. We got a great pitching performance out of Travis. There are a few things defensively that weren’t great, but we took advantage of what they did defensively too. Long story short, it ends up being a good win.”

Marshall (16-5 overall) was initially scheduled to play the Redbirds again today, but due to a wedding siphoning off most the team, the A’s would not have had enough players available to field a full squad. Instead, Coon Rapids will face off against Glencoe in a doubleheader at Legion Field today, while the A’s will return to action at 2 p.m. on Sunday against Glencoe in Marshall.