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A stellar outing from Gunner Pickett allowed Mead to end its season by handing league champ Erie its only Tri-Valley loss.
Cliff Grassmick / Daily Camera
A stellar outing from Gunner Pickett allowed Mead to end its season by handing league champ Erie its only Tri-Valley loss.

 

MEAD — The Erie and Mead baseball teams had quite different interests in Saturday’s afternoon tilt at Mead High School.

Having already locked up the Class 4A Tri-Valley League regular-season title, Erie was playing to keep its undefeated conference record intact. Entering the game with sub-.500 record, fifth-place Mead wanted a strong finish to the 2015 season.

On its home field, it was underdog Mead that beat the odds and had its wish granted in the form of a 3-1 win.

“We’ve been up and down all year but I’ve stressed to these guys that this is what we’re capable of doing,” Mead head coach Wesley Sells said. “I’m just happy for these guys because we talked about trying to break up an undefeated season and trying to do better at home because we’ve been struggling at home this year. We got fired up and it helped that we had our best guy on the mound.”

Helping Mead (9-9, 6-7 Tri-Valley) improve to 3-4 at home this season, left-handed ace Gunner Pickett was the difference in the game. Over seven strong innings, the junior hurler held conference champion Erie (16-3, 13-1 Tri-Valley) to four hits, struck out three batters and didn’t surrender a single walk.

“I kept things mixed up and I’m pretty proud of myself,” Pickett said. “I’ve been studying their stats and stuff so I knew they were a good hitting team and I was pumped to try and shut them down. Our defense was good today and we strung hits together when we needed them. I guess baseball just worked out for us today.”

Pickett mixed his running and cutting fastballs to cause Erie hitter after Erie hitter to pop the ball up. Behind him, the Mead defense did not commit and error.

After three quick innings, Erie senior Kyle Leahy drove in the first run of the game with a sacrifice fly in the top of the fourth inning. Mead then executed a pair of hit-and-run plays and a sacrifice fly to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the inning.

With one out in the bottom of the sixth, left fielder Luke Levine, who scored two of Mead’s three runs, scored on a throwing error to push Mead’s lead to 3-1.

Erie starter Zane Begano was nearly as good as Pickett, allowing just two earned runs on seven hits over six innings.

“Gunner threw well and we weren’t very good at the plate,” Erie head coach Harold Simmons said. “I think we had like 15 pop ups. He kept us off balance and they didn’t have any errors.”

Despite the loss, Erie will head into the postseason confidently.

“We thought we had to win out to host so we’ll see how the numbers break down,” Simmons said. “We’ll see what happens with the Wild Card points over the next few days. We’ll see what the draw is but obviously we’d like to host and we feel deserving of it.”

Mead will finish the season at Frederick (6-11, 3-9 Tri-Valley) on Monday. Erie will have to wait until Wednesday to find out where it will play its first playoff game.

Follow Brad on Twitter: twitter.com/BradCochi

Mead 3, Erie 1

At Mead HS

Erie 000 100 0 — 1 4 2

Mead 000 201 x — 3 7 0

W — Gunner Pickett. L — Zane Begano.

Erie hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — BJ Jensen 3-1-1-0, Josh Crites 2-0-0-0, Kyle Leahy 2-0-0-1, Luke Conilogue 3-0-1-0, Zane Begano 3-0-0-0, Nick Gavit 3-0-0-0, Clint Allen 2-0-0-0, Nic Ogimachi 2-0-0-0, Zach Elliston 2-0-2-0. Totals 22-1-4-1. 2B — Jensen.

Mead hitting (ab-r-h-rbi) — Gunner Pickett 3-0-1-0, Matt Regan 3-0-0-0, Dillon Buckendorf 3-0-1-0, Easton Adler 3-1-2-0, Luke Levine 3-2-1-0, Jake Skrine 3-0-2-1, JP Trott 2-0-0-1, Tyler Levine 2-0-0-0, JT Surrage 2-0-0-0. Totals 24-3-7-2. 2B — Buckendorf. SB —Adler.

Erie pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Zane Begano 6-7-3-2-0-2.

Mead pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Gunner Pickett 7-4-1-1-0-3.

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