Strong bid behind Winder's hurling to halt 3-games losing streak falls shy of mark as St. Joseph: Lafayette holds on for 2-1 Midland Empire Conference win Tuesday (April 23, 2019)
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Despite having gone through a rocky stretch over the previous 11 days, the Chillicothe High School baseball Hornets, with one timely swing of the bat on at least three occasions or with sounder defense in either of two third-inning instances Tuesday, could have owned a 3-0 record in 2019 Midland Empire Conference play and halted a losing streak. Ominously, they were not able to execute effectively in any of those chances and eventually sustained a frustrating 2-1 league loss to St. Joseph: Lafayette.
Chillicothe wasted junior righthander Jaden Winder’s complete-game 2-hitter in which he held host LHS’ Fighting Irish without an earned run, but still could not register his first 2019 win in four pitching decisions.
An infield error allowed Lafayette’s first batter in the bottom of the third inning of a still-scoreless game at Phil Welch Stadium to reach first base safely. With two outs and the bases full and the score still 0-0, a fly ball to left field was not caught, becoming a 2-runs, 2-bases error instead of the final out that would have sent the game to the fourth inning still even.
Having short-circuited its own bases-loaded, 1-out threat in the top of the fourth with a base-running mistake that became a double play that kept top hitter Westley Brandsgaard from batting with two outs and three on, the Hornets utilized a Lafayette misplay to score its lone run in the top of the fifth.
After Matt Smith led off with a single and pinch-runner Brad Hayen moved up to second base when the Irish mishandled Tucker Wagers’ grounder, Chillicothe had the top of its lineup up with two on and none out.
After Lafayette got the first out without the runners advancing, Winder spanked a single to shallow right-center field. Down by two runs, Chillicothe could not risk having Hayen thrown out trying to score from second with one out with Brandsgaard ready to step into the batter’s box. That proved unfortunate since the throw to home plate was both off-line to the first-base side of the plate and bounced away from the catcher a short distance.
Facing righthander Hunter Blake, who had relieved starting lefthander Brayden Luikart in the fourth inning, Brandsgaard worked the count full before sending a ground ball to the second baseman. With the infielders at double-play depth, while Winder was forced out at second, but the batter beat the return throw to first as Hayen crossed the plate with CHS’ first run.
A second-straight CHS batter then stood in with a chance to at least pull the Hornets back even with a single, but also was retired, stranding the tying run at third an inning after Chillicothe had left the game’s potential first run 90 feet from home with one out.
The only Chillicothe baserunner in the last two innings was Wagers, who squeezed a single through the middle of the infield with one in the top of the seventh to give the top of the order another chance to do something dramatic. However, a well-hit fly ball to right field was easily caught and Winder, with a team-high two hits already, tapped back to reliever Tyson Koch this time to end the game.
Statistically, Chillicothe out-hit Lafayette 6-2 with four Hornets adding a single safety to Winder’s pair.
The CHS hurler walked four and struck out eight, while the trio of Irish arms issued two walks and hit one batter while fanning six Hornets, according to CHS statisticians.
While Chillicothe’s two errors factored directly into the two LHS runs, the lone Lafayette boot was worked around successfully.
The baseball Hornets, now 4-10 overall and 2-1 in the MEC and having lost four in a row and six of their last seven, start play in their own tournament Thursday (April 25), facing Macon at 3 p.m. on “Chuck” Haney Field at “June” Shaffer Memorial Park in the first (quarterfinal) round and then either St. Joseph: Benton or Cameron in an approximately 5 p.m. game at either Shaffer or Daryl Danner Memorial Park (site depends on whether the Hornets defeat Macon).