Seldom-used pitcher answers call for FM Marcus in Game 3 win over Trinity

Steve Hamm - Special Contributor

FLOWER MOUND — Flower Mound Marcus coach Jeff Sherman is youthful but seasoned. He reminds his No. 3 pitcher during a sometimes dormant district schedule that they could become very important come the playoffs. Marcus junior lefty Ethan Nichols was ready.

Nichols pitched Marcus to a 5-1 victory over Euless Trinity (20-12-1) in the finale of a best-of-3 Class 5A Region I bi-district series. In six innings, Nichols allowed just five hits, had six strikeouts and only one walk in his first start in almost a month.

“They tell us to keep your head in the games during district and stay ready,” Nichols said. “Even if you don’t pitch a lot, you come prepared every day. It helps when you have a lot of confidence in your defense.”

Nichols kept usually hard-hitting Trinity off-balance with good command. His only trouble came in the fourth inning when his only walk was to a leadoff hitter. After back-to-back singles by Trinity’s Wes Engle and Mark Geisel, Nichols responded with a swinging strikeout followed by a double-play.

In the fifth, Trinity got a pair of two-out singles but a Marcus (27-7) cutoff throw back to third cut down a baserunner for an inning-ending out. Trinity's coach protested the close call, which turned out to be a momentum-swinging play.

“You know how many times we’ve messed that one up this year?” Sherman said. “About five times. Finally we got there and back-doored them. That turns out to be a shutdown inning because we had just scored. Those are huge.”

Marcus used its aggressive base-running to get off to a 3-0 start in the bottom of the first. Leadoff hitter Ashton Easley singled, stole second and reached third on a wild pitch. Easley scored on an error. Using another steal to put Romero Greer in scoring position, Matt Bernstein tripled to the fence in right to give Marcus a 2-0 lead and made it 3-0 when he scored on a ground out.

Marcus took a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the third as Romero was hit by a pitch and went to third on a single by Bernstein. Romero scored on a sacrifice fly. Marcus scored its fifth run as Tyler Boertje doubled in the fourth and came home on  a two-base throwing error on the play.

Marcus scored five runs in the last two innings in an 8-7 win in Game 1. In Game 2, Trinity forced Game 3 with a 3-1 victory. After reaching the regional semifinals last year, Marcus used its strengths to get a District 5-5A co-championship and make another playoff run.

“We’re aggressive,” Sherman said. “That’s our mojo. We’re going to steal and hit-and-run. When you have athletes like we have and the pitching we have, why not?”

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