Assured of second-consecutive winning year, baseball Hornets (12-10) will face Savannah Monday evening, May 14, in district semifinal at St. Joseph
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Chillicothe High School’s baseball Hornets already will be certain of a winning final record for 2018 even before they take the field at Phil Welch Stadium in St. Joseph tonight for a Class 4 District 16 Tournament semifinals battle with second-seeded and Midland Empire Conference champ Savannah.
The Hornets gained that certainty Saturday afternoon when, despite a sluggish offensive performance, they dispatched a surprisingly-challenging Cameron Dragons squad 3-1 in the first (quarterfinal) round at Welch Stadium.
Twice previously victorious over Cameron by wide counts (9-2 and 10-0 in five innings), the CHS diamond boys might have been guilty of a bit of lack of focus at the plate, but were able to ride strong pitching from three hurlers into the next round.
Starting sophomore righthander Wes Brandsgaard (2-3) twirled the first four innings before being removed prior to exceeding a pitch-count level which would have delayed by a day his potential next appearance.
After Brandsgaard yielded Cameron’s only run on a double to left by Dalton Erickson in the third, senior righty Drew Toedebusch threw the fifth and sixth, each time getting the last out with a Dragon or two in scoring position.
That required Toedebusch to use enough offerings that he also came up against a pitches-ceiling head coach Canaan Fairley and assistant/pitching coach Aaron Norris had chosen not to let him go past, also – like Brandsgaard – in order to keep him available for tonight’s game.
Thus, after issuing a walk with two outs and none on in the top of the seventh, Toedebusch was pulled off the hill and freshman Mason Baxter was asked to retire the potential tying run at the plate or at least keep him from scoring.
The young righty, coming over from his third baseman’s spot, answered the call, throwing four strikes among his six deliveries to Nelson before that sixth one led to a routine groundout to second baseman Bradley Riley to earn the save.
After tagging Cameron for 19 runs in 14 previous innings, Chillicothe (12-10) had figured to be in very good shape if it limited Saturday’s foe to a single run, as it did, but that wasn’t the case.
Producing only five basehits – three of which were doubles by Brandsgaard, Trace Staton, and Toedebusch, Chillico-the actually needed help in the form of four Cameron miscues, four walks, and three hit batsmen to generate the single runs they put up in each of the third, fourth, and fifth innings.
The third saw lefty-swinging Brandsgaard pull a 2-bagger into the gap in right-center field with one down. After a strikeout, Toedebusch hit a ball to right field that should have been caught, but wasn’t as Chillicothe tied the game, 1-1.
Staton’s double down the left-field line began the Hornets’ fourth. After an error on Isaiah Boon’s grounder left men at the corners, a wild throw to second as Boon stole second let Staton stroll home with the tiebreaking tally.
The Chillicothe fifth saw Toedebusch pull a 2-base hit down the line in left leading off. After a groundout advanced him to third and a shallow fly left two outs, Boon delivered a much-welcomed, 2-outs single over the second baseman to drive in the third Hornets run – the only earned marker Chillicothe managed.
Statistically, the only batter on either team who had more than one hit was Dragon Erickson, who had half of his team’s four.
Cameron pitcher Sam West, who also played for the golf Dragons this spring, not only threw well – yielding only one earned run and five hits while going the route, but did so, opposing coach Fairley saluted, while pitching – and batting – with a broken hand.
Chillicothe’s hill trio got 13 of the 21 Cameron outs themselves. Brandsgaard whiffed 11 Dragons in his four innings and Toedebusch K’d two more. Each of them walked a pair.
Chillicothe’s defense was solid, making only one error, which didn’t hurt it.
Chillicothe and Savannah’s only regular-season meeting was only a week ago with the host Savages taking it 15-0 in five innings on Brandon Berry’s 2-hitter.