After two rainouts, CHS diamond club rides Toedebusch's pitching, hitting and 3-for-3 games by sophomores Ward and Winder to 5-3 home triumph over Richmond Tuesday (March 20)

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — The third try was the charm for Chillicothe High School’s baseball Hornets to get in their first 2018 game and earn their first win Tuesday (March 20).
With six strong innings of mound work from senior starter Drew Toedebusch and big hitting performances from the heart and sole of the lineup, Chillicothe picked up a 5-3 triumph over visiting Richmond after enduring rainouts last Friday and Monday.
RHS’ Spartans also were in action for the first time this spring in the non-conference encounter in overcast, cool conditions at “June” Shaffer Memorial Park stadium.
Chillicothe will turn right around and make up Monday’s postponement against Lawson today (Wednesday, March 21) at 4:30 p.m. at Shaffer Park stadium.
Tuesday’s contest saw each starting hurler post goose eggs in the first two frames before sustaining damage the second time through the opposition lineup.
In each case, failure to retire the foe’s No. 9 batter in the order led to trouble.
Richmond’s Brandon Gant waited out a leadoff walk to open the top of the third and leadoff man Laine Todd made Toedebusch pay by lacing a 2-0 pitch over the head of the left fielder for a run-scoring triple and 1-0 RHS lead.
With no one out, the Spartans seemed likely to add on, but the CHS righthander had other thoughts. Toedebusch induced a popup to shortstop for the first out, then struck out the next man before a line drive was just within the reach of third baseman Mason Baxter, who speared it on the backhand to strand Todd at third and keep it a 1-0 game.
It didn’t stay that way very long.
With one out in the Chillicothe third, sophomore right fielder and No. 9 batter Kam Ward grounded a hit through the left side of the infield. After a popup to short, Ward was on the move when freshman Baxter ripped a single over the shortstop’s head. When the center fielder momentarily mishandled the ball, Ward – after a momentary hesitation – headed on to third base. Drawing a throw, he slid in safely while Baxter smartly read the play and eased into scoring position at second, rather than having to stay at first had the outfielder thrown to second once he booted the ball.
Baxter’s advancement proved highly-beneficial for Chillicothe as Toedebusch followed with a sharp single to left. As Ward sauntered home, Baxter was waved around behind him, drawing another too-late throw. Compounding Richmond’s mental mistakes, when the throw home was cut off and the ball fired back toward second base as Toedebusch tried to slip in there, the peg was high over the head of the second baseman and into right-center field. That allowed the CHS pitcher to move to third, where he was held up by head coach Canaan Fairley.
The decision not to risk sending Toedebusch home on the wild throw paid off when sophomore cleanup batter Jaden Winder lashed his second hit in as many plate appearances, making it 3-0.
Walks by righthander Todd to Trace Staton and Konner Sewell followed, loading the bases and giving CHS a chance to punch a big hole in the game. However, the Richmond righty managed to get an inning-ending whiff on a 3-2 delivery, keeping the margin 3-1.
After Toedebusch used consecutive strikeouts to strand two Spartans in the top of the fourth, the lower part of the lineup again sparked the Hornets’ attack to life.
This time, No. 8 batter Gage Kirkland singled to left leading off to greet relief hurler Clayton Coldwell. Ward, a righthanded batter and lefthanded thrower who figures to pitch some this season, pulled a hard grounder between the Richmond third baseman and the bag for a double that left runners at second and third with none down for the top of the lineup.
Coldwell got the first out without the runners budging, but Baxter’s comebacker got under the hurler’s glove, allowing Kirkland to score and Ward to advance to third while the second baseman threw out the frosh at first.
Toedebusch then helped his cause again with a 2-outs hit, his single to center field bumping the hosts’ lead up to 5-1 after four innings.
Toedebusch worked a 1-2-3 fifth, then bowed his neck after the first two Spartans singled in the sixth to strike out the next three batters and leave the runners at second and third.
Having thrown nearly his allowable limit of pitches (101 of 105), that ended his stint on the hill and Richmond took advantage of the switch to sophomore righthander Westley Brandsgaard, who had spent the first six innings squatting behind home plate, catching Toedebusch.
Working with the 4-runs cushion, the reliever got the first man he faced on strikes, but then yielded a bloop hit to short right to Todd. After a Chillicothe fielding error put a second Spartan aboard, a dropped, slightly-off-target throw at first base after a dropped third strike let a runner score from third and brought the potential tying run to bat.
Brandsgaard fanned him for the second out, but then handed out consecutive free passes to force home Richmond’s third run and move the potential tying run into scoring position at second and let the go-ahead run reach base.
Finally, with the bags jammed, Brandsgaard got the last out on a called third strike – his fourth whiff of the inning – and Chillicothe had win No. 1 tucked away safely.
Statistically, CHS out-hit its guest 10-7, struck out only about half as often (seven to RHS’ 13), and committed one less error (two) than Richmond.
Individually, Winder’s and Ward’s 3-for-3 games at bat and Toedebusch’s three runs batted in and two hits provided the bulk of the offensive support for winner Toedebusch’s pitching. The senior righthander notched nine strikeouts and walked only two in his six frames. Although tagged with the two seventh-inning runs, Brandsgaard did not allow any earned tallies and had the four strikeouts, while walking two.
Richmond’s Todd was replaced on the mound after the third inning, having allowed three Chillicothe runs. Coldwell gave up the last two tallies. All five CHS runs were earned.
No. 5 batter Dylan Alexander led the 7-hits RHS offense, going three for three plus drawing a walk.