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PHOTO GALLERY | No bunt, no problem as Mill Rats walk off Kings for 2-0 start

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Johnstown Mill Rats second baseman Logan Myers had fouled off two attempts at a sacrifice bunt with the potential winning run on second base in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The first-year Prospect League player from Pittsburg, Kansas, earlier had told Johnstown manager Josh Merrill that he wouldn’t let the team down.

So, Myers swung away and sharply laced a single into right field with two runners on base in a tie game against the Champion City Kings on Wednesday. Jack Newman raced from second base to score the game-winning run as the Mill Rats beat the Kings 8-7 in front of 257 fans at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point.

PHOTO GALLERY | Mill Rats battle Champion City Kings

“Coach Merrill gave me the bunt sign, and I didn’t get the job done,” Myers said. “I knew whether it was just move the runners or get a base hit, I had to come through. I ended up getting the job done in the end.

“Two strikes – I was looking for anything close just to put the ball in play. After missing the sac bunt, I just didn’t want to strike out there. I put the ball in play and it found a hole.”

For the second straight night, the Mill Rats won in dramatic fashion to open the Prospect League season 2-0.

In Tuesday’s season opener at the Point, Johnstown scored seven runs in the eighth inning of a 13-8 comeback win over Champion City.

“It shows that a bunch of us met each other three or four days ago and we’re already battling together,” said Myers, who also had an opposite-field double to left in the sixth inning.

Merrill, the first-year Mill Rats manager, liked the determination.

“I asked him to bunt. He said, ‘Coach, I’m not going to let you down,’ ” Merrill said.

“He finds a way to get the job done.”

Myers recently finished his freshman season at NCAA Division II Emporia State University in Kansas. He was the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) freshman of the year.

“I’m actually from Kansas, and I know his assistant coach really well,” Merrill said of Emporia State assistant coach Bret Schwartz. “I said, ‘What do you have?’ He said, ‘I have two freshmen I really need to get out and get some experience.’

“Logan had a really good spring. He was the freshman player of the year in his conference. I was really excited about that.”

Johnstown right-handed pitcher Seth Stover, who tossed 22/3 scoreless innings of relief Thursday, also was a freshman this past season at Emporia State University with Myers.

“This is my first time anywhere on the East Coast,” Myers said. “It’s really cool. A two-minute drive in Kansas is about two miles. Two miles here is about 10 minutes with all of these hills, but we’re getting used to it quick and I’m looking forward to a fun summer.”

The Mill Rats scored a run without a hit in the second inning to lead 1-0. Joey Perry walked, Newman was hit by a pitch and Perry scored as the Kings misplayed Carter Rust’s sacrifice-bunt attempt.

Champion City answered with a three-run top of the third. Louis Florida hit a run-scoring single, and Evan Houseman drove in a pair with a single.

Johnstown tied the score 3-all with a pair in the third.

Payton Starr led off with a triple to deep center field on the Mill Rats’ first hit of the contest. He scored on a wild pitch.

Max Humphrey walked, Perry ripped a line drive single to left field and Newman walked before Rust’s fielder’s drove in Humphrey.

“Putting this team together, we really wanted to find winners,” Merrill said. “I think our guys are going to fight. They’re going to grind and they’re not going to take no for an answer until the game is over.”

Humphrey singled and stole a base with one out in the seventh. Perry laced another liner to left field, plating the go-ahead run. He moved up on the throw home and scored on a Newman single to center. Newman later scored on a wild pitch to set a 6-3 score.

The Kings bounced back against reliever Will Juday, who hit two batters and walked one while also fanning a pair. Juday almost escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth as Nate Miller fell behind 0-2 before tapping a soft grounder in front of the mound.

Miller beat the throw, which went wide as Champion City scored twice and closed within a run.

Johnstown got one back after Landon Meyer singled, stole second and scored after an errant throw on his steal of third base.

Champion City tied the score with a pair of ninth-inning runs on three hits, including Jacob Baller’s run-scoring double to center.

“Would have loved to have won that in the top of the ninth, but we gave the fans a little party at the plate to go home with,” Merrill said.

Newman opened the Johns- town ninth with a walk. Rust bunted for a single, setting the table for Myers.

“What I’ve really seen in the last two days is our guys are grinders and they fight,” Merrill said.

Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.