Polk County's Mason Beiler

Polk County manufactured a run and a little momentum in the top of the first inning of Wednesday night’s baseball game at Landrum.

Unfortunately for the Wolverines, they couldn’t sustain it. Landrum’s bats and strong pitching from the Cardinals’ Titus Poore spelled an 11-1, five-inning loss for Polk County, leaving the Wolverines fighting to get to the crucial .500 mark for the season.

Things couldn’t have started much better. Gunnar Alm walked, took second on a wild pitch, stole third and scored on a passed ball to stake Polk County to a 1-0 lead without a ball being put in play.

That was all Poore would allow, though. Landrum’s starter was overpowering at times, scattering two hits, walking four, and striking out 10 in five innings of work. Poore struck out six of the first nine batters he faced and recorded two strikeouts in every inning except the third. He struck out the side around a single in the second, and ended Polk County’s best threat in the third, with two on and two out, by getting a strikeout looking.

“I think that’s their No. 1, and he pretty much owned us tonight,” Alm said. 

Meanwhile, Landrum’s bats were breaking out. The Cardinals answered the Wolverines’ early run with one of their own in the first, as Ty Foster reached on an error, stole second and scored on Sawyer Smith’s single. 

Landrum (14-10) really broke it open in the second, sending nine to the plate and scoring six runs for a 7-1 lead.. Harper Gosnell, Durham McEntire, and Grady Zipperer all had hits in the inning, while Zipperer, Poore, and Smith drove in runs. Smith finished the night with three RBIs, Zipperer had two, and Poore and Kirby Gentry had one each.

With their pitching nearly exhausted in Tuesday’s conference loss at Brevard, the Wolverines (8-11) turned to Karson Scruggs on the mound, who ate up innings and exhausted his weekly pitch count after having thrown on Tuesday as well. Alm said finding a way would be the norm for the Wolverines the rest of the way.

“We’re down to seven original varsity players,” Alm said. “Donte Tingling and Zalen McCraw have stepped in from JV, not having played baseball before, and they’re doing great. We’re just trying to make it through game by game right now.

“We’re so far in the hole with players, we’re just trying to do whatever we can to get through. Right now I’m just proud of some of the young guys who have stepped in and not complained and who have just gone out and done their jobs.”