CHS commits five errors, has other physical,mental failings as undefeated Macon slips away with 3-1 victory in Chillicothe Monday (March 25)
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — If not for their own miscues and miscalculations, the 2019 Chillicothe HS baseball Hornets could be undefeated and unscored upon through their first three games. Instead, they sit at 1-2 after losing 3-1 to the visiting Macon Tigers Monday (March 25).
Defeated 1-0 by an unearned run at Lawson in their season opener before bouncing Trenton 10-0 last Thursday, the Hornets allowed two technically-unearned tallies against Macon (3-0), but could have prevented the other run, as well, by simply catching a waist-high throw.
A 2-bases throwing error on Christjen Riekeberg’s routine grounder to third base starting the Macon sixth inning invited Monday’s winning rally.
An opportunity to blunt the impact of that error immediately presented itself when Jamison Hogsett’s sharp grounder back to the mound was cleanly gloved by relief pitcher Baxter. However, with Riekeberg stopped about 30 feet off second base, the CHS hurler mistakenly threw the ball toward second base, allowing the Tiger to head toward third, where the hurried throw there, probably too late anyway, was in the dirt and rolled away. That let the speedy Hogsett to alertly scoot into second without a play, making the low throw CHS’ second physical error of the inning.
A shallow fly ball to center field by Justin Hayes proved just deep enough for Riekeberg to slide home with the tiebreaking marker just ahead of the relayed throw to the plate.
When the next batter popped up, the Hornets had a chance to escape with minimal damage. Macon then gift-wrapped what should have been the inning-ending out when it had a man bat out of order.
However, when Ryan Petre completed his errant plate appearance with a hit to left field as Hogsett scored from third, Chillicothe failed to take note of the MHS miscue and appeal it to the umpires before the first pitch to the next batter. Once that pitch was made, the situation could no longer be appealed, the hit and run counted, and Macon had a 3-1 lead.
Although the Hornets got a baserunner into scoring position in each of its two remaining offensive half-innings, it did not bring either in, allowing Macon to stay undefeated.
After missing on a scoring chance in the opening frame, Macon pounced on a couple of CHS mistakes to plate the game’s initial marker in the top of the second inning.
With a man at first, courtesy of a 1-out walk, Macon attempted a 2-outs steal. A bullet throw from catcher Westley Brandsgaard was on target and arrived well ahead of the would-be thief, but wasn’t caught, preventing CHS from recording the third out and forcing the No. 9 man in the Tigers’ lineup to lead off the top of the third.
Instead, the inning continued and starting pitcher Winder wound up walking the batter to bring leadoff man Hogsett to the dish with two on.
That proved to be a problem, as the lefthanded-swinging right fielder, who had two hits in last year’s 7-3 Chillicothe win over Macon in the first round of the Chillicothe Invitational Tournament, spanked the first pitch from the Hornets righthander cleanly through the left side of the infield on three bounces. The hit let Jacob Nelson, who had been reprieved on the theft, score from second base without a play for a 1-0 lead.
The Hornets strung together three 2-outs hits in the third to erase their deficit, but missed two chances to seize a lead.
A hard drive down the right-field side by righthanded-hitting Winder carried and tailed just far enough to get over the retreating outfielder’s head for a stand-up double. After seemingly considering an intentional walk to Brandsgaard, Macon tried to work carefully to him, with mixed results.
On a 2-2 delivery, the lefthanded-hitting junior ripped a hard shot toward the first baseman, who was positioned surprisingly far off the line. As the blow to the first sacker’s left hit the soft ground, it took a surprising change of direction back to his right, forcing the fielder to brake quickly and twist back against his momentum. Losing his balance, he managed to glove the ball cleanly on the backhand as he fell back to a more-or-less seated position. From there, although there still might have been time to get the batter with a sharp, accurate throw, but his awkward position led to a looping throw that carried over leaping pitcher Eric Moore’s glove. While Brandsgaard reached with the infield hit – making him seven for seven on the season at that moment, Winder’s courtesy runner Isaih Kille had to stop at third base as the ball rolled toward the home plate area.
With another chance to get out of the inning unscathed, Moore surrendered a solid, ground-ball single into left to Hornets cleanup man Kam Ward, tying the score at 1-1.
When Brock Ward waited out a walk after getting down on the count 0-2, Chillicothe had the bases full and a chance to post a crooked number with one swing of the bat, but Moore rebounded to get his fifth strikeout of the game.
After Macon left two on the fourth – the Tigers incongruously left two aboard in each of the seven innings, Moore hit Bradley Riley and walked Tucker Wagers and Mason Baxter in succession with one out in the Hornets’ half, ending his hill stint.
Lefthander Jakob Swallow came on and delivered a full dose of relief against the heart of the CHS lineup.
He induced a soft popup to the second baseman for the second out and then a hard-hit Brandsgaard grounder went right at the second baseman, stranded the bases full with Hornets a second time in a row and ending the CHS standout’s remarkable, season-starting streak of consecutive hits at seven.
Baxter replaced Winder on the mound to start the fifth, the junior starter leaving with one earned run allowed on three hits, three hit batsmen, two walks, and five strikeouts.
The reliever was touched for a pair of singles in his first inning, but got out of the 2-on, 2-outs situation with a strikeout. The variety of CHS physical and mental mistakes the next inning did them in, however.
Statistically, the key number was the five Chillicothe errors, a total which doesn’t include the missed catch of the throw on the second-inning steal nor the mental error that allowed the lead run to advance to third in the sixth. Five different Hornets committed the errors.. Macon did not make any, aside from the missed batting-order flub.
The visiting Tigers out-hit Chillicothe 7-6, led by Petre’s three and two each by Hogsett and designated hitter Nelson. Winder doubled and singled and Brandsgaard singled twice for CHS, which also got singles from Riley and K. Ward.
Chillicothe’s next scheduled game is at home Thursday against St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond. That 4:30 p.m. varsity contest will be CHS’ Midland Empire Conference opener.