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Trojans win 2-1 in contest between unbeaten teams that was decided in final inning

COURTESY PHOTO: JEREMY MCDONALD/JMCDONALDMEDIA - Kennedy's Riley Cantu puts the tag on North Marion's Emilio Estrada in the Trojans' 2-1 win over the Huskies on Saturday.Classification is only a number, and the Kennedy Trojans proved on Saturday that they're every bit as good as their Marion County counterparts in Hubbard.

The 2A Trojans went toe-to-toe against 4A North Marion in a game between two of the last unbeaten teams in the state, pulling out a 2-1 victory in a contest that was decided in the final inning. It was a bit like a little brother beating the big brother for Kennedy head coach Kevin Moffatt, whose team played its first seven-inning game of the season against the Huskies.

"We kind of model our program after North Marion," Moffatt said. "We want to be like them – they're always hustling, doing the right things, playing the game the right way. That's probably as good a coaching staff as there is in the state and as good a baseball program. Just a fun day to go over and be part of that."

It was a rare opportunity between the two baseball powers, which came about as a mid-season schedule change after the Corbett Cardinals dropped down to a JV-only schedule. That left a three-game hole in North Marion's schedule, prompting the Huskies to reach out to Kennedy for the second half a double-header on Saturday.

"I've got a ton of respect for what they do there and their programs have been super competitive," North Marion coach Randy Brack said. "It's baseball. Baseball is so different from other sports, because the size doesn't matter. Put a pitcher in there and if he's throwing strikes, it don't make any difference."

Brack likened the game to a contest in 2018 when the Huskies traveled to Jesuit to play the perennial 6A power and future MLB draft selection Mick Abel. North Marion tagged the future Phillies first round pick for two runs and led 2-0 heading into the fifth inning before ultimately falling 3-2.

"You play the game the right way, anybody can beat anybody," Brack said. This time it was Kennedy playing the role of spoiler, breaking a 1-1 tie in the seventh inning when senior Camryn Biegel drove in pinch-runner Owen Bruner from second base to score the game-winning run with two outs.

Bruner was running for pitcher Ethan Kleinschmit, who closed out the final frame to help the Trojans earn the victory.

"We haven't been in a tight game yet this year and we knew we'd have to play close to perfect to have a chance to hang in there," Moffatt said. "Our guys were emotional and intense. It was a different feel for sure than anything we've been around this year. It's easily one of the most enjoyable games I've been a part of. It was playoff atmosphere.

"I don't know if year in and year out we're going to give them that good of a game," Moffat said, "(But) I think we'll probably play a little more in the future."

Kennedy (8-0) was scheduled to host Salem Academy (2-5) on Monday before traveling to the Crusaders on Wednesday, followed by a trip to Western Christian (8-0) to close out the week.

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