Montgomery's 2-runs double, Berry's closing 2-runs homer highlight MEC leader Savannah's third-frame eruption in eventual 11-3 league victory in Chllicothe
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Twice rained out of a would-be early-season clash with the Savannah Savages, the Chillicothe (Mo.) HS baseball Hornets got their initial first-hand look at the 2019 Midland Empire Conference leaders Monday (May 6), just before the regular season concludes.
Hosting the Savages in beautiful weather for their home finale, the Hornets played the conference frontrunner on dead-even terms in six of the seven innings, each side plating three runs across those six. Unfortunately for Chillicothe, Savannah’s performance in the third inning already had more or less left them for dead.
Having jumped ahead 2-1 with a pair of tallies in the bottom of the first inning, CHS saw Savannah knot things at 2-2 in the second and then unleash an 8-runs torrent against a pair of pitchers in the top of the third to pave the way for a decisive 11-3 win.
The defeat on its “Senior Day” left Chillicothe with a 5-14 overall record and 2-4 conference mark. That means the diamond Hornets will not have a winning record for the season for the first time since 2016. They had entered the season with a chance to post back-to-back-to-back winning years for the first time in program history, which dates back to 1997.
After wrapping up the regular season with a home game against Kansas City: St. Pius X, a contest slated for Tuesday (May 7), but threatened by rain and a wet “Chuck” Haney Field, the Hornets will try to salvage something positive from an injury-hampered season by trying to make a deep run in the Class 4 District 16 Tournament.
It is due to begin this coming Saturday at St. Joseph, with Chillicothe facing third-seeded Kirksville in an approximately 3 p.m. quarterfinal game.
Monday’s game against Savannah offered the home crowd some early reasons to cheer before the roof caved in in the top of the third inning.
After Savannah nicked Hornets senior starting pitcher Matt Smith (0-3) for a run in the top of the first on a walk, a single, a hit batsman, and a sacrifice fly, the CHS bats did some damage.
Leadoff man Mason Baxter, back in action after missing last Friday’s game at Maryville, drew a walk from SHS starting and winning pitcher Chase Spoonemore and stole second. With one out, a single to right-center field by Westley Brandsgaard plated him, tying the score.
With two outs, freshman Brock Ward coaxed a base on balls that pushed Brandsgaard up to second, from where he was able to score on Dawson Wheeler’s 2-outs hit to center.
The 2-1 Chillicothe lead evaporated quickly in the top of the second, thanks to a leadoff walk – one of 12 the Savages waited out on the evening, a passed ball, a single, and a groundout. However, Smith was able to limit the scoring damage to only that run and the game moved into the third knotted at 2-2.
Before Chillicothe could record an out in that frame, a pair of singles, a second hit batter, and a walk moved Savannah in front by a run. A popup on the infield netted the first out, but SHS No. 9 batter Kobe Montgomery ripped a 2-runs double down the line in left field and the blowout was on.
By the time CHS reliever Wheeler, who took over after Montgomery’s blow, was able to retire the side, the Savages led 10-2, their giant inning capped by star first baseman Braden Berry’s 2-runs home run over the left field wall.
The only scoring after that came in the sixth inning when each side netted a marker. Chillicothe’s came via a leadoff double by B. Ward to left and following ground balls to shortstop, the latter off the bat of senior Gage Kirkland as the runner scored from third base.
Statistically, Chillicothe was out-hit only 8-5, but its hurlers handed out 14 free baserunners via walks or hit batsmen. The Hornets also had the game’s only two errors. Those misplays meant only one of the five runs charged to Wheeler was earned.
Spoonemore worked the first five innings on the hill for Savannah to gain credit for the win. He walked only three, while fanning seven.
Brandsgaard had CHS’ only multi-hits game, going two for three to keep his season batting average right around .500.