THURSDAY, MAY 3, 2018, CHS ROUNDUP: Fifth comeback win in row on diamond spices strong day. Soccer girls clinch best record ever. Track-and-field boys reign in Irish Relays behind senior duo
Three Chillicothe (Mo.) HS spring sports teams posted victories Thursday, one extending a memorable string of successes, one cementing an historic achievement, and the third effectively built on two senior pillars.
For fifth-consecutive game, the baseball Hornets overcame at least one deficit, this time erasing a quick 1-0 margin and later turning a 2-runs deficit into a 2-runs lead in the bottom half of the sixth inning as they clipped visiting St. Joseph: Benton 9-7 in non-league play.
In a Midland Empire Conference soccer match across town at Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II, CHS’ soccer Lady Hornets again coupled impervious defense with a goal from hot-shooting senior forward Harlie Jones to best Savannah 1-0. The booters’ 12th triumph of 2018 – only one off the program’s previous high-water mark – mathematically assures this year’s team of eventually posting the best winning percentage for a season in program history.
At St. Joseph, hurdler/sprinter Brett Shaffer again won three individual events and was part of a victorious relay and thrower Walker Graves took first places twice and a second-place once to account for 60-1/2 of the track-and-field Hornets’ 126 total points as Chillicothe’s boys won the team title in the Irish Relays hosted by Lafayette High.
While the boys showed the way in their gender division at the north St. Joseph school, the CHS girls were managing only a sixth-place showing, less than half what champion Trenton posted (131-1/2).
Also in competition, but without its full complement of normal lineup members were the tennis Hornets, who – minus top player Tyler Maasdam and continuing their long stretch without mid-lineup player Brenden Nelson – were blanked at home 9-0 as Maryville wrapped up the MEC team crown.
Crazy Game Goes to Red-Hot Hornets on Sewell’s Hit
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Having trailed 2-0, led 3-2, and trailed 6-3 within the first 1-1/2 windy, wacky innings, Chillicothe’s baseball Hornets strung together several hits in the bottom of the sixth to tie their home game against Benton, then scored what proved to be the winning run on senior Konner Sewell’s single in a 9-7 triumph.
It was the fifth victory in succession for the diamond squad, which earlier in the year lost five straight.
More remarkable than the length of the winning streak is the manner in which it has been formulated.
Each of the five victories has seen Chillicothe (11-8) behind once – and only a couple of occasions more than once – and for them to rally both early and late.
Two days after going 11 innings to best Maryville in a game it trailed three times – including 5-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning, CHS came back to win over Benton after being down twice, including 6-3 in the second inning, even while utilizing a freshman and a sophomore to do its pitching.
After narrowing their deficit to 6-5 in their half of the second inning, the Hornets made no further inroads for a while.
Still ahead 6-5 going into the sixth, Benton used a 1-out error and back-to-back singles to add on before CHS relief pitcher Kam Ward, who yielded the RBI hit and then hit the next batter to load the bases, stranded three via a strikeout and groundout.
Now trailing by two with two innings of at-bats remaining, Chillicothe’s newfound confidence lifted it again.
Leading off the CHS sixth, Brandsgaard was hit by a 1-2 pitch from BHS reliever Keigan Hogan, who had suffered the loss in relief when Benton lost to the Hornets in nine innings last Saturday after leading the championship game of the Hornets Baseball Classic tournament 4-0 in the fifth inning.
Mason Baxter, representing the potential tying run, got a hit to center field, moving Brandsgaard to third. Toedebusch singled to right-center to make it 7-6 as Baxter held at second base with no outs.
A bouncer to the second baseman erased Toedebusch, but put the lead runner only 90 feet from tying the game and had the go-ahead run at first.
Trace Staton tapped a pitch slowly down the first-base line as Baxter dashed home with the tying run ahead of Benton’s throw.
A walk to Isaiah Boon pushed the potential lead run to third, allowing Jaden Winder to easily score for an 8-7 lead as Konner Sewell pulled a basehit into left field.
With the bases still full, Ward (2-1) gave himself a bit greater margin for error when he went back to the mound by lifting a fly ball far enough to center field for Staton to tag up and score after the catch.
Now protecting a 9-7 lead, Chillicothe made the seventh inning more dramatic than it needed to be.
The Hornets misplayed a ball off the bat of the first Cardinals hitter and, after a popup gave them one out, Ward walked the No. 9 batter in the BHS lineup on four pitches.
That brought the top of the Cardinals order around with the potential tying run now on base and possible lead run in the batter’s box.
Dame Fortune proved faithful, not fickle, though, as, on a 1-1 pitch, Ward got the Benton leadoff man to sharply ground the ball to second sacker Winder. He shoveled the ball quickly to shortstop Toedebusch at second for one out and the peg back to first nailed the batter for a game-ending double play.
Benton quickly dented CHS starting hurler Baxter for a pair of runs – one of which could have been avoided – in the first inning Thursday.
In the bottom half, Chillicothe responded with ferocity, putting its six batters aboard on four singles – including Jaden Winder’s 2-runs hit to center, and two walks. However, with a 3-1 lead and no outs, the Hornets’ chance to blow the game open immediately vanished via a line-drive double play against a BHS infield defense surprisingly pulled all the way in to the grass and, after another walk that reloaded the bases, a strikeout on a 3-2 pitch.
With already a couple of eyebrow-raising plays having taken place – including Chillicothe’s first run being scored by Wes Brandsgaard as he somersaulted over the Benton catcher after having fallen rounding third base on Drew Toedebusch’s clean single to left, things turned ever weirder in the second frame.
A pop fly into a very strong, south wind coming in from right field fell for a bases-loading single in the Benton second. The next batter hit a ground ball that could have been at least a run-stopping forceout at home plate or an inning-ending double play, but, as the attempt was made for a twin-killing, the throw to first was wild as the tying run scored. A wild throw to first on a DP attempt had allowed Benton’s second run of the opening inning to score, as well.
The “Twilight Zone” trip was only getting started.
After a Benton batter was hit by a pitch for the second time in as many plate appearances, reloading the bases with two outs, a routine ground ball to short was fielded cleanly, seemingly destined to lead to the inning-ending out. However, when the infielder who gloved the ball opted to go for the would-be forceout at second, because the man covering the base was not to the base yet, there was a slight hesitation making the throw, which also was made underhanded. Because the runner at first base had taken a big lead and ran hard on contact, the umpire ruled he arrived at second at the same time as the soft throw was caught on the base. That meant the go-ahead run had scored.
That latest missed defensive opportunity was resoundingly trumped on the next play.
With the sacks still full, a popup was skied toward the middle of the field. On a calm day, the ball likely would have carried a short distance onto the outfield where either middle infielder or the center fielder could snag it handily. However, with the ball’s high launch angle, it quickly lost forward thrust in the buffeting wind.
According to CHS head coach Canaan Fairley, hearing the initial sound of the ball hitting the bat and seeing the ball’s initial trajectory, the CHS center fielder virtually immediately “called” to make the play. At that, forewarned infielders veered well out of the outfielder’s way and stopped tracking the ball.
Unfortunately for the Hornets, however, the ball not only stopped carrying toward the increasingly-onrushing outfielder, but was blown away from him back toward home plate. As everyone watched in stunned disbelief, the ball finally came to earth on the infield grass near the shortstop position, untouched and uncaught as two runs scored to make it 6-3, Cardinals.
To his credit and belying his youth, frosh Baxter did not get flustered or frustrated by the repeated defensive failures behind him. He got a groundout from the next batter and went on to pitch into the sixth inning, allowing only one more run, before reaching his 95-pitches limit.
Long before that, another baffling occurence kept Chillicothe in arrears.
Having “batted around” in the first inning, the Hornets again had the top of their lineup at bat to begin the second, facing a 6-3 deficit.
Just as in the opening frame against Benton starting pitcher Ethan Gwinn, the top four in the order – Brandsgaard, Baxter, Drew Toedebusch, and Winder – got on base.
Baxter followed Brandsgaard’s leadoff single with an RBI double down the line in left field. When a walk and an infield hit followed, the sacks were juiced and the home team again looked poised for a big inning that might at least tie the game. It would not.
A solidly-struck fly ball to right field that, in calmer conditions, would have carried deep enough for the runner at third to tag up and score, hung up in the wind and caught in shallow right for the first out as the runners held their stations.
Isaiah Boon then followed with a ground ball to third which offered the possibility of an inning-ending double play by one of two or three routes. However, after being gloved, the third baseman chose a not-so-smart fourth option which let another CHS run score.
The Benton player opted to try to tag Toedebusch heading toward him, but the veteran Hornet alertly stopped and backtracked toward second. The third baseman, after chasing toward the retreating runner, then threw the ball to the second baseman on second base, technically forcing out the runner who’d been at first and had not yet arrived there. The ball then was thrown back to the third baseman, who tagged Toedebusch for the third out and a double play.
However, because of the forceout at second had technically removed the requirement for Toedebusch to advance to third, the third out was not a force play situation. That meant – Baxter’s having long since crossed home plate before the tag – the Hornets did get their fifth run out of it.
Following that, the game followed a more-normal track, capped by CHS’ winning rally in the sixth.
Statistically, Thursday’s game saw Chillicothe out-hit Benton 13-9, led by three hits each from Toedebusch, Baxter, and Winder. Baxter and Brandsgaard each dented the dish three times. Benton had three hits and two runs batted in by Hogan.
Six different Hornets earned RBIs.
CHS’ baseball Hornets will close out their regular season next week with conference games at Savannah Monday and Smithville Tuesday.
Familiar Formula Also Works for CHS Booters
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Just as the CHS baseball Hornets have a run of similar victories in progress, the soccer Lady Hornets also are prospering with a tried-and-true, yet narrow, approach.
For the third time in their last six matches, senior outside forward Harlie Jones did the only scoring as the Chillicothe booters prevailed 1-0 over guest Savannah Thursday.
For Jones, her approximately 20- to 25-yards looper over the head of the Lady Savages goalkeeper after intercepting a wind-blunted goal kick in the 15th minute resulted in not only her third 1-0 match-winner in the last six outings – five of which CHS has won, but also her fifth goal overall in the last eight matches.
Her six goals are second on the squad and, with her recent hot-foot surge, her 10 points (goals and assists combined) also now are second on the Lady Hornets behind goal-scoring leader Sarah’s 16.
Thursday’s CHS triumph, which raised its MEC mark to 4-2, was its and junior goalkeeper Kennedie Kieffer’s 10th shutout of the season and its second 1-0 nipping of Savannah this spring.
The victory nearly eluded Chillicothe – at least temporarily – in the final four minutes when a sequence of misjudgments by the Lady Hornets in trying to aggressively defend in the middle third of the pitch led to Savannah executing a couple of passes and touches that sent one of its players into open space into the CHS penalty area right in the center of the pitch.
However, as one last Lady Hornets defender drew near to try to apply some pressure from the side, the Lady Savage had to dribble the ball one more time to get in on Kieffer one on one. When she made that touch, intending for it to be fairly soft, the combination of her forward velocity and the strong wind blowing from south to north at her back gave the ball too much “oomph” on the springy artificial turf. The ball squirted far enough ahead of her that, by the time she could catch up to it about five yards from the goal line, the lanky Kieffer had aggressively and smartly read the situation and, sliding out on her left side, reached the ball first, cradling it in her arms before the Savannah player could attempt a shot.
At 12-4 now with only two regular-season matches remaining, Chillicothe has assured itself of no worse than a 12-7 final record (should it lose in the first round of the tough 4-teams district tournament it will host in a couple of weeks). That at-worst 63.2 winning percentage would surpass the program’s previous best in its 12-years history – the 61.4 percent mark (13-8-1) posted by the 2015 district champs.
Only that 2015 team has won more matches in a season than this year’s squad, which starts eight underclasswomen.
Matching that standard the next time out is a real possibility as the Lady Hornets will journey to St. Joseph: Lafayette Tuesday to face a Lady Irish squad they blanked 4-0 at home earlier in the spring.
However, bettering it will be challenging, since that presumably will necessitate either upsetting the strong Maryville team which dominated Chillicothe 6-1 at Maryville a couple of weeks ago or winning the district-tourney opener against almost-certain foe Excelsior Springs. ESHS owns a win over Maryville and twice has lost by only one goal to Smithville, a team Chillicothe not only has never defeated, but never scored against in its history.
Track-and-Field Boys Stay on Track
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — As usual, University of Central Missouri-bound Chillicothe track-aand-field star Brett Shaffer swept both hurdles races and the 200-meters dash and combined with three teammates for a first-place finish in the 1,600-meters relay Thursday to lead the Hornets to their fourth meet title of the season.
With Graves providing his mostly-customary triumphs in the discus throw and shot put and high placement in the javelin throw – second place this time, the CHS boys racked up an Irish Relays-best 126 team points. That was 20-1/2 more than runnerup Richmond with Midland Empire Conference champion Maryville third.
Chillicothe head coaches Karen Jackson (girls) and Bill Shaffer (boys) had made it clear before Thursday’s Lafayette High-hosted competition that they approached the meet and Tuesday’s upcoming Cardinals Relays at St. Joseph: Benton as tuneups, stay-sharp meets just to try to keep their top competitors in the flow of meet action without stressing and straining to gain every team point they could squeeze out.
That showed a bit as several CHS athletes not named Graves or Shaffer posted lower-than-normal finishes.
There were some highlights by other Chillicothe runners besides Shaffer.
Junior girls hurdler Kylee Larson won the 100-meters highs before taking second in the 300 lows. Aside from her, the best finish was the tie for second by the 3,200-meters relay group of Elena Boon, Carly Beebe, Delaney May, and Hunter Keithley.
Among the Hornets, there were no other wins besides those provided by the arorementioned seniors duo. Sophomore Isaak Rasche matched Graves’ runnerup javelin fling with a second-place run in the 400 meters.
Tennis Boys Easy Prey for New MEC Champs
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Maryville’s tennis Spoofhounds probably headed south to Chillicothe Thursday highly confident they’d return home with the 2018 Midland Empire Conference team championship safely in tow. When they arrived, they learned the scales had tipped even farther in their favor.
The host Hornets were without their most-experienced and best player, Tyler Maasdam, meaning they’d face the Spoofhounds minus two of their top four players at season’s start. Original No. 4 singles/No. 2 doubles player Brenden Nelson has missed the last two-thirds of the campaign with injury.
With Maasdam’s unexpected absence, Chillicothe coach Bob Long inserted Tyler Black at the bottom os his lineup, bumping all of his other regulars up a spot. Not surprisingly, a 9-0 loss that completed Maryville’s surge to the MEC penthouse resulted.
Of the nine sets play, Chillicothe did have a good shot at winning a couple.
In No. 3 doubles, Seth Batye and Black were fairly competitive early, but fade in the latter games of a 4-8 loss.
In singles, it again was newly-added Black who was the most-competitve, dropping his No. 6 set 6-8 when his foe captured the last five games in succession, Long relates.
In No. 1 singles, fill-in Grahm Mayers was bested by Mason Walk 1-8. In No. 1 doubles, Mayers and Gunnar Young fell to Peter Kempf and Chance Hermelink by the identical 1-8 margin.
Now 3-11 in all dual matches this spring and 2-4 in MEC matches, the tennis Hornets will be in Friday’s (May 4) Benton Invitational Tournament at St. Joseph before starting district tournament team play Monday at 4 p.m. against host Excelsior Springs. Chillicothe lost to Excelsior Springs 4-5 at home early in the season, the only victory ESHS’ Tigers have netted to date this season.