Baseball Hornets open tourney on right foot Friday

Respond forcefully to Salem rally in 9-4 victory at Marshall; soccer girls blitz Mexico 7-0

As reported to C-T
Chillicothe (Mo.) High School Hornets

MARSHALL — Challenged – in a manner of speaking – after constructing a 5-0 lead through five innings, the Chillicothe High School baseball Hornets responded forcefully Friday evening to dispatch the Salem Tigers 9-4 in a first-round game in the round-robin 2021 Marshall Invitational Tournament.

Weather and field conditions permitting, Chillicothe – owning a 4-games winning streak – is to face Clinton late Saturday morning (April 17) and the host Owls late that afternoon to round out the tourney.

The Hornets (6-3) seemed to be cruising to a solid victory over Salem behind junior starting pitcher Gage Leamer (4-0) when he weakened suddenly in the top of the sixth.

With CHS having sandwiched a single third-inning tally between 2-runs frames in the second and fourth, Ga. Leamer had a 5-0 cushion to work with entering the sixth, but it nearly disappeared entirely before Chillicothe could get Salem’s Tigers retired.

Even though the foe had only one hit in the inning - a solidly-struck single through the middle to begin the sixth, three Hornets hurlers – Ga. Leamer and relievers Justin Pyle and Landon Swift – awarded six free passes to the south-central Missouri team, narrowing the Chillicothe margin to 5-4.

Pyle, in his varsity mound debut, came within a pitch of bailing the CHS starter out of a bases-full, no-outs jam without any damage, retiring the first Salem batter he faced on a popup to the second baseman and getting a full-count strikeout of the next.

However, after going to 3-2 on the following batter, Pyle walked him to bring in the first Tigers tally. When he did the same to the next, the freshman righthander was lifted in favor of senior righty Landon Swift, but his results were unsatisfying. Another bases-loaded walk and a run-scoring wild pitch made it a 1-run game.

After Swift then refilled the bases with his second walk in as many batters, first-year head coach Joshua Lisle signaled for a fourth pitcher of the inning, sophomore outfielder Griff Bonderer.

Even though he’d not had any bullpen time to get loose on the chilly, damp evening, Bonderer went right to work. After throwing a first-pitch strike, something he’d eventually do to three of the four Tigers he’d face, the righthander got a bouncer to Mason Baxter at third base to strand three and preserve the now-thin lead.

Chillicothe’s batters relieved the pressure on their reliever by pounding out five runs in the bottom of the sixth to ice the victory.

No. 9 batter Tucker Wagers started the home half of the sixth with a double down the left-field line. He remained there as Bonderer walked, then dashed home when Baxter, who’d singled home two runs to make it 5-0 in the fourth, doubled over the center fielder’s head.

Ga. Leamer, who’d switched to shortstop when removed from the bump, singled into left field to plate Bonderer and hurried into the second base as Salem threw to third to hold Baxter there. That advance allowed junior catcher Brock Ward’s sharp hit into center field to score two and make it 9-4, Chillicothe. Ward ended up at third base on the play as he took second on the throw to the plate and then continued on to third when the Salem catcher’s return toss toward the pitcher got away.

Seemingly conceding the game was beyond repair, Salem played its infield back, despite the runner at third and no outs, letting Landon Winder’s routine bouncer to the left of the third baseman turn into a run-scoring groundout and 10-4 CHS lead.

Bonderer then worked a quick, 1-2-3 seventh to record his second save.

With Ga. Leamer blanking Salem on one hit – a sharp, second-inning comebacker he took off either the lower back or posterior, apparently without significant damage, Chillicothe eased out to its initial 5-runs lead.

In the bottom of the second inning, Ward’s first of two singles to center was followed by what went in the scorebook as an infield hit for Winder as his hard-hit grounder caromed off the shoe of the field umpire stationed behind the pitcher’s mound.

After Max Wagers, who’d have to leave in the top of the third with an injury sustained as he made a diving catch in short left-center field, bunted the two runners along, Wyatt Brandsgaard drove in courtesy runner Alijah Hibner from third with a bounceout to shortstop. On the play, Winder tried to advance to third after the shortstop threw and not only made it safely, but scored when the first baseman’s throw across the diamond went wild.

The CHS lead moved to 3-0 in the third on Bonderer’s infield hit, walks to Baxter and Ga. Leamer, and Ward’s scoring fly ball to deep right field, a shot which came within about 10 feet of being a grand slam.

In the CHS fourth, a throwing error to start the inning, a 2-outs walk to Bonderer, a couple of stolen bases, and Baxter’s opposite-field single to right increased the Hornets’ lead to 5-0.

The 4-teams, round-robin tournament began earlier Friday afternoon with host Marshall (7-3) pummelling Clinton (3-10) 11-1.

Statistically, although the staff ended up handing out nine walks and hitting a 10th Tiger, CHS’ four hurlers held Salem to only two hits, both off Ga. Leamer. Salem ended up leaving 10 men on base.

Chillicothe not only stroked seven hits, including a pair of doubles, also benefitted from four SHS errors, four walks, and one hit batsman.

Leading the attack with three RBI each were Baxter and Ward, while Baxter had the lone CHS multi-hits game with two. Bonderer scored three times, luring two bases on balls in addition to his infield hit.

GIRLS’ SOCCER

In a match which unfolded as if it was being played on the side of a steep hill, the Chillicothe High school soccer Lady Hornets debuted in this weekend’s Lady Spartans Invitational Tournament at Moberly by uncorking, according to CHS coach Jimmy Chapman, nearly 50 shot attempts in a 7-0 obliteration of Mexico.

Sophomore forward Juliann Gabrielson continued to have a hot foot, netting her sixth and seventh goals of the season inside the first 15 minutes and later adding an assist on returned-to-action Lucy Reeter’s team-high 10th goal a couple of minutes into the second half.

Along the way, junior Allison Ishmael parked her third goal of 2021, freshman Delanie Kieffer netted her second, and junior Sophia Luetticke the first of her career.

Reeter earned three assists in the match to raise her team-high total to nine and senior midfielder Julia Stimpson picked up her third assist of the year on Kieffer’s goal in the 18th minute.

“The grass field threw us off our finishing game, but barely allowed (Mexico) into our defensive half,” Chapman recounted the game’s lopsided territorial slant.

“(The Lady Hornets) Created a ton of chances. Mexico’s ‘keeper had at least 25 saves and we had 46 shot attempts.”

Friday’s victory upped the CHS season record to 6-3.

Chillicothe is scheduled to meet Columbia’s Father Tolton Regional High team on the same grass field at 11 a.m. Saturday and, after a break, host Moberly on the artificial-turf stadium pitch at 3 p.m.

BOYS’ TENNIS

The threatening weather turning the planned evening play at Kirksville into normal late-afternoon action, Chillicothe’s tennis Hornets produced the “Tennis Under the Lights” Tournament’s top individual performer.

Hornets junior Chace Corbin ripped off 8-1 wins over both Trenton’s and Kirksville’s best players to reign as the tourney’s No. 1 singles champion. He and classmate Emmett Young also were the No. 2 doubles champs, thanks to a 9-8 (6) victory over THS’ second duo and 8-3 win over Kirksville’s.

Aside from Ch. Corbin’s successes, Trenton ruled the roost in the tourney, according to Hornets coach Bob Long. The Bulldogs’ entries won the Nos. 1 and 3 doubles and Nos. 2-6 singles positions.

“Chace kept the Bulldogs from sweeping the event,” the CHS coach observed.

In his singles play, the Chillicothean topped Trent Villacampa of Trenton and Jacob Doman of Kirksville.

In doubles, Young and Ch. Corbin outlasted the THS tandem of Jonin Villacampa and Riley Walker in a tiebreaker as tight as the regulation play. After each side won eight games among the first 16, the Hornets’ pair won the final point in the 12-points tiebreaker that itself went into “overtime,” claiming it 8-6.

In No. 1 doubles action, Chillicothe seniors Carter Allen and Caleb Corbin lost to T. Villacampa and Bradyn Sager 3-8 and to Kirksville’s Doman and Gavin Pike 5-8.

Chillicothe’s No. 3 duo – sophomores Gabe Peterson and Shayden Hawkins – took second place by shading the Kirksville entry 8-6 and losing to Trenton’s 2-8.

Ca. Corbin split his No. 2 singles sets, losing 4-8 against his Trenton opponent and defeating Kirksville’s No. 2 8-6.

Allen dropped both of his No. 3 singles sets, 6-8 against Trenton and 3-8 versus Kirksville.

Peterson fell 1-8 against Trenton’s No. 4 singles player and 3-8 to Kirksville’s.

Young was defeated 1-8 by Trenton’s No. 5 guy and 4-8 by Kirksville.

At No. 6 singles, Hawkins lost to the Trenton entrant 2-8 and to KHS’ 1-8.

The Chillicothe tennis boys are to begin a stretch of four home matches in a row Monday against Midland Empire Conference opponent Cameron at 4 p.m. on the Daryl Danner Memorial Park courts.