Another close game

Tribune Chronicle / Brian Yauger Maplewood’s Austin Rae, left, is called out on a close play at first base Thursday in the Rockets’ 7-5 loss at Mathews.

VIENNA — Mathews is no stranger to high-pressure moments. The Mustangs faced another in their 7-5 win over Maplewood.

Mustangs coach Jared Terlecky was relieved when the final out was called, for the sake of his blood pressure.

“I’ve been coaching here 16 years,” Terlecky said. “I know (Maplewood coach) Mark (Trevelline) has been at Maplewood even longer and every time we play Maplewood it’s always a real nail-biter all the way down to the end.”

The Rockets jumped out to a 3-1 lead which had the Mustangs flustered. Some well-placed hits got seniors Brandon Smith and Jake Miller around the bases to tie the game in the fifth inning.

“We got a little discouraged early in the game,” Terlecky said. “They got an early lead on us. They’ve got a good pitcher, several good pitchers, and he pitched a great game. We got a couple hits when we needed them there to tie it up later on and a couple hits later to pull ahead.

Tribune Chronicle / Brian Yauger Jake Miller of Mathews watches the ball after connecting Thursday against Maplewood.

“Of course, we made it interesting at the end. They had the bases loaded and anything can happen there. That’s just how every game is with them. We play them again in a couple weeks, and I’m sure the game will be exactly the same way.”

Tied in the bottom of the sixth, Miller knocked in three runners to push the Mustangs ahead, 6-3. Miller wound up crossing home plate to extend their lead to four. Miller finished the game with two hits and rounded the bases twice.

“We hit some balls right to them at times, that double play they turned that ticked off the pitcher’s glove was a big time play for them,” Terlecky said. “So I told them, ‘Keep having good swings and eventually the ball will find its way through’ and it did. That really made a difference for us in that big sixth inning.”

Things always need adjusted after a nerve-racking win. Terlecky singled out a few instances from Thursday’s game as examples of what they need to clean up for their tough stretch.

“You can’t throw the ball over the first baseman’s head,” Terlecky said. “You can’t drop that ball in center field. You can’t do that. That kills you so you got to make a difference on that.”

The top of the seventh inning is where the stress came in. With two outs on the board, Maplewood brought two runners home to narrow the lead to 7-5. Terlecky had to keep pitcher Hunter Schoenfeld’s confidence up in order to close the game out, visiting the mound twice to talk with his team.

“In both scenarios we were talking about where we wanted our defense to be,” Terlecky said. “Just talking about where we wanted to play at, which runners we were going to hold and of course talking about making the hitter earn it.”

Terlecky mentioned how Maplewood’s patience posed an obstacle to closing the game out.

“They’re very patient in that part of the lineup,” Terlecky said. “A patient team like that you have to make sure you go right at them. You can’t nibble in the strike zone because they get a good hit.”

Up next for the Mustangs are three games against two tough opponents. Today Mathews takes on local power Niles McKinley before facing Warren G. Harding in a doubleheader Saturday.

“We haven’t played them in several years,” Terlecky said. “I know they won their conference and I believe they went to the district finals. (They are a) well-coached team, good speed. I know they’ve got good pitching. They’ll play good defense against us, I’m sure. To beat them we’ll have to throw strikes and play good defense. It’ll be a close game one way or another, hopefully.”