Mesa, AZ - The Mesa Thunderbirds made a big statement Thursday afternoon in the opening game of the Region I DII Semi-Finals against the Chandler-Gilbert Coyotes, beating the Coyotes, 14-3.
Mesa had nine hits and seven runs in the first inning alone, take any stress of the T-Bird starting pitcher, Chase Merriman. All nine hits and seven runs came with two outs in the inning.
Kody Funderburk started both the hitting and scoring with a towering home run to right field. The T-Birds than rattled off eight more hits in a row, with Marcus Skundrich hitting into a fielder's choice but Mesa was able to score two runs. Kelby Richardson, Joshua Brown, Cameron Cruz, Hunter Bross, and Jared Crockett each singled before the final out of the inning was recorded. All nine batter's in the lineup accounted for a hit in the inning.
Because of the solid run production, Merriman pitched four innings, allowing three hits, two runs, one earned while striking out two and walking one.
The T-Bird offense continued to click as they scored runs in each of the first four innings. Skundrich singled in the second, scoring a run and then he doubled in the third, scoring two more runs. On the day, he collected five RBI's. To lead off the bottom of the fourth inning, Joshua Brown connected on his first homer of the season, a no doubter to right field.
On the day, Mesa hashed out 18 hits. Following Merriman on the hill was John Cranston, who finished up the final three innings for Mesa. He allowed three hits, no runs, struck out three while allowing no walks.
Game two between the T-Birds and Coyotes will be tomorrow at 3 pm at the Mesa Baseball Complex.