Macon dominates as CHS baseball Hornets drop ’21 home debut

Hosts held hitless until fifth, scoreless into sixth in 12-1 10-runs-rule defeat Monday

Paul Sturm
Chillicothe News
Sophomore right fielder Wyatt Brandsgaard pulls a pitch through the hole into left field for the Chillicothe High School baseball Hornets' first hit of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning of Monday's 2021 home opener. The Hornets added two more hits and their only run in the sixth as Macon left town 12-1 6-innings winners.

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

With bats which occasionally boomed after the first time through their batting order and a starting pitcher who didn’t allow a baserunner until the fourth inning and hit until the fifth, the visiting Macon Tigers dispatched the Chillicothe High School baseball Hornets 12-1 in six innings Monday evening.

The Hornets’ first game on “Chuck”Haney Field at “June” Shaffer Memorial Park Stadium since May 2019 ended prematurely after Macon put crooked numbers in the scorebook in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

When the Tigers (2-0) followed a 5-runs fourth with one more in the fifth and four with two outs in the sixth, it positioned them for a slightly-shortened triumph.

Chillicothe, held to one hit and four baserunners through five frames, did try to extend the contest to its full seven innings against relief pitcher Jacob Nelson in the home half of the sixth, but couldn’t get the extra hit it needed to get tha done.

A full swing by Chillicothe High School baseball Hornet Gage Leamer produces a soft chopper right down the third-base line and a sixth-inning single during Monday evening's CHS 2021 home opener against Macon. Leamer's swinging bunt was followed, two batters later, by a run-scoring single by Brock Ward, but that was the lone CHS run of the game as Macon prevailed 12-1 in six innings.

A leadoff walk to senior relief pitcher Landon Swift, Gage Leamer’s swinging-bunt single down the third-base line, and cleanup hitter Brock Ward’s twisting fly-ball single into the very strong wind in right field quickly broke up the shutout against the second MHS hurler in the bottom of the sixth.

However, a strikeout, a forceout grounder, and CHS’ 13th whiff of the contest stranded the potential game-extending runs on first and third bases.

Chillicothe (1-2) is to begin Midland Empire Conference play for this season at home Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

A struck No. 9 batter with one out in the top of the third set the Macon offense in motion.

After he stole second while a pickoff throw from the catcher was going to first base, winning pitcher Chrisjen Riekeberg ripped a double over the head of the left field to break the scoring ice. Riekeberg then stole third and scored when the throw got away.

The 2-0 margin mushroom to 7-0 in a loud top of the fourth.

With one out, consecutive singles were followed by Preston Stewart’s shot which kept carrying in the very strong wind blowing from right to left and cleared the wall for a 3-runs home run.

The Tigers continued to get solid contact against Baxter, who had started the game retiring seven of the first eight MHS batters, including five strikeouts.

Following Stewart’s long ball, an infield hit on a slow roller toward third base and line-drive single through the hole on the right side left runners on the corners for the top of the MHS lineup. Although Baxter fanned his hill counterpart to give himself a chance to keep the score at 5-0, Tigers first baseman Blake Murr pulled a long double down the left-field line, easily scoring the baserunners from second and third bases to make it a more-daunting 7-runs difference.

Back-to-back infield hits, combined with two CHS errors, paved the way for a soft, unearned marker in the MHS fifth before the Tigers got to reliever Gabe Hansen for three hits, three walks, a hit batsman, and four runs in the visitors’ sixth. Consecutive RBI doubles by Jakeb Swallow and Trevin Shrum highlighted the sixth-inning outburst.

Statistically, Macon out-hit Chillicothe 13-3 with Tigers blows being for extra bases. The Hornets also enabled the MHS cause with four errors, three bases on balls, and two hit batters.

Chillicothe, which didn’t get a baserunner until Baxter coaxed a 1-out walk on a 3-2 pitch in the fourth, did eventually draw four bases on balls to go with its three hits.

Despite each working only five frames, both starting pitchers – loser Mason Baxter of the Hornets and winner Riekeberg of Macon – reached double digits in strikeouts. The Hornets senior righthander got 10 and the Tigers portsider 11, including the last three batters he faced after Wyatt Brandsgaard broke up his no-hitter with a clean single through the hole into left field in the fifth.

Baxter (0-2) was charged with eight runs – six earned – over his five innings.