MADISON — It was the kind of evening where you could work up a sweat by taking yours keys out of your pocket. Still, Franklin County coach Kyle Gunzinger felt starting pitcher Amos Herrin deserved the chance to finish out the game as Madison put the tying and winning runs on base in the bottom of the seventh inning.

To understand why Gunzinger felt that way, you need to know a little bit more of the story.

Herrin, who is home-schooled, had his spleen removed in February after a sledding accident, and sprained his ankle a couple games into Mt. Blue’s high school baseball season. Finally healthy, he threw 102 pitches in a complete game on a very sticky Monday evening, and held on as the Flyers defeated Madison, 5-4, in an American Legion Zone 2 baseball game.

“He was going the rest of the way,” Gunzinger said. “Great kid. He was pretty efficient with his pitches. I was going to let him win it or lose it.”

Herrin entered the bottom of the seventh with a 5-2 lead and 86 pitches behind him. Madison’s Kaleb Brown started things off with a single to right. After a groundout, Brown came home on an RBI double by Ben Salley that one-hopped the fence in right-center field.

Pinch-hitter Taylor Bacon then fell behind 1-2 before hitting a soaring shot to right-center that went for another RBI double. With his lead now down to 5-4, Herrin got in further trouble when he walked John Swett on five pitches.

At that point, having already used his one free visit to the mound, Gunzinger yelled to Herrin to ask if the pitcher was all right. Gunzinger got the body language he was looking for, and left Herrin in. Pinch-hitter Derek LeBlanc hit Herrin’s 102nd pitch of the day for a liner down the line, but first baseman Charlie Hart back-handed the ball at about shoulder level and stepped on the bag for the game-ending double play.

“I probably lost a little velocity (and) I wasn’t spotting my pitches that well,” said Herrin, who finished with five strikeouts. “But other than that, everything was fine. It was a good game.”

It was fitting that Franklin ended the game on a fine defensive play, because the Flyers frustrated Madison (5-3) with their defense all game. Herrin picked a runner off first, and shortstop Scott Hall denied Chase Nelson a hit when he fielded Nelson’s slow roller and threw him out on the run.

But that was nothing compared to the third inning. Nelson, Garrett Emery, and Kam Nelson all hit deep fly balls. Chase Nelson’s was caught deep down the right field foul line by Lucas Preble, Emery’s was caught near the fence by left fielder Ryan Pratt, and Kam Nelson’s drive ended with center fielder Ryan Greenman making a backhanded catch in deep center field.

“Oh, the defense was great,” Herrin said. “It was phenomenal.”

Franklin (3-4) got all five of its runs in the top of the second. Colton Lawrence, Blake Hart, and Anthony Franchetti delivered three straight singles to plate two runs. With two out, brothers Ryan and Andrew Pratt were hit by consecutive pitches to force in a run, and Preble followed with a two-run double for a 5-0 lead.

“We came out flat, and you can’t come out flat against teams like this,” Madison coach Peter Kirby said. “But give them all the credit. They played hard. I ain’t worried about it.”

Part of the reason Kirby wasn’t worried was because Madison was missing some starters, and because the 39ers also got five scoreless innings of relief from Salley.

As for Franklin, Gunzinger talked to his players a few times about missed signs, but there was no doubt that this was an important win. The Flyers get a boost today when Cam Abbott, who has been out of state recently, returns to the lineup.

“All in all, I’m pretty pleased with where we’re at, and in particular, what we have,” Gunzinger said. “The kids are tough, and they battle, and I think they’ll get better as we go.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

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