Having done well enough through four innings to give themselves a good chance at a big Midland?Empire Conference upset, the Chillicothe High?School baseball Hornets tested the sport’s axiom that, defensively, you can’t give a team more than three outs and expect to succeed once too often yesterday.
With visiting Savannah, the MEC leader, having used pro prospect pitching ace Blake McFadden to shut out St. Joseph:?Benton 1-0 a day or two earlier, Chillicothe scratched out a run or two in three of the first four innings and received creditable hurling from Troy Toedebusch to lead the Savages 5-3 entering the fifth inning at “June”?Shaffer Memorial?Park.
Had the Hornets executed on routine or makeable plays in the top of the fifth, they would have been batting against a seemingly-hittable SHS relief pitcher with a 5-4 lead and, at worst, needing only six more outs without any further Savannah scoring to throw a huge monkey wrench into the Savages’ conference title plans.
However, whereas misplays against a run-of-the-mill team can often lead to allowing a run or two, giving a very good team like Savannah extra outs usually produces bigger damage – and it did.
Twice in the fifth inning, makeable plays weren’t made and, combined with wild pitches and passed balls and a modicum of Savannah hitting turned what should have been, at most, a 1-run SHS frame into an 8-run nightmare for Chillicothe, which never recovered and absorbed an 11th-straight loss, 11-5.
Capitalizing – even with the loss of one of their top hitters to an first-inning injury – on their offensive chances more effectively than they have of late, the Hornets overcame a 3-run Savannah first to lead by two entering the fateful fifth.
Back-to-back singles by?Guy?Vinson and Toedebusch and Austin?Hatfield’s fielder’s choice grounder in the bottom of the first got CHS on the scoreboard. The inning ended just after No. 5 hitter Jacob Lewis fouled a pitch off his left foot and had to leave the game with at least a bruised, swelling extemity.
In the bottom of the third, Lewis’ replacement, senior Connor Dixon, seldom used as a batter this spring, came to the plate with two outs and men at first and second after Toedebusch’s 1-out double to left had plated Vinson, who again had singled. Down on the count 1-2, Dixon pounded a sharp grounder through the left side, scoring Hatfield from second, to draw CHS (4-14, 2-3 MEC) even at 3-3.