Chillicothe (Mo.) HS Baseball, Tennis Hornets Take Narrow Losses Tuesday
For a second day in a row Tuesday, it was a case of good, but not good enough for Chillicothe High School 2021 spring sports teams.
But for one third-inning pitch, the Chillicothe baseball Hornets might have come home from St. Joseph Tuesday still in, at worst, a tie for the MEC lead with a 4-0 league ledger.
Having scratched out a second-inning run and then capitalizing an error to score twice in the top of the third, the Hornets held a 3-0 lead over St. Joseph: Lafayette’s Fighting Irish.
However, with the sacks full and one out in the bottom of the third, LHS third baseman-turned-relief pitcher Jayden Little made CHS and starting pitcher Mason Baxter pay the full cost of having issued an intentional walk to the batter in front of him.
With the on-purpose, bases-filling base on balls to Irish pitching ace Brayden Luikart, Baxter tried to get ahead of Little, but found the Lafayette batter more than ready.
Little launched a drive to left field which sailed far over the fence, turning the 3-0 Chillicothe lead into a 4-3 deficit in seconds.
That is right where the score stayed the final 4-2/3 innings as the Fighting Irish, not Chillicothe, lifted their MEC mark to 4-0, while Tuesday’s loser dipped to 3-1. Savannah, like Lafayette, is yet to lose in league play.
The decisive LHS inning began with one of only two Chillicothe errors in the game. A basehit sent that man to second, from where both runners moved up 90 feet in a sacrifice bunt.
With Luikart, who had singled to right field in his first at-bat of the day, stepping in and first base open, Hornets head coach Joshua Lisle “rolled the dice” and opted to face Little and, if need be, cleanup man Xavier Page.
It took only one offering from the CHS righthander, who had retired Little on a fly ball to right field to end the first inning, for the answer to be provided.
Little pounded that delivery far over the left-field wall, where it ultimately banged off the side off the St. Joseph Parks and Recreation Department building directly east of the stadium.
Just like that, the Chillicothe lead was gone. When, despite Baxter going on to throw a complete game and allow only four hits and two walks, there was no more scoring, Lafayette had won the showdown.
The Hornets didn’t let leaving two runners in scoring position in the first inning against LHS starting hurler Zach Langley frustrate them, although they didn’t really have a lot of choice.
Starting the second inning, the Irish pitcher walked first batter Landon Winder on a 3-2 pitch, then hit Wyatt Brandsgaard. Those two moved up on a successful double-steal and Winder scored as designated hitter Gabe Hansen bounced out to the first baseman.
The Chillicothe third frame again saw the first two batters get aboard. This time, both scored.
Griff Bonderer, batting second behind Baxter and just in front of top hitter Brock Ward, in the rearranged CHS lineup, beat out a roller to third. Ward then pulled a 1-1 pitch into left field for another hit and when the ball eluded the left fielder, Bonderer came all the way around from first and Ward settled at second with the Hornets now in front 2-0.
After Gage Leamer bounced back to the pitcher as Ward took third, Lafayette changed pitchers, selecting Little to take over on the bump with one out and a man at third.
Winder fell behind on the count 1-2, but the sophomore managed to poke the next delivery on the ground to the second baseman. That allowed Bonderer to score without a play, making it 3-0, Chillicothe, but it became CHS’ final run of the game.
After giving himself and his team the lead, Little shut out the Hornets (7-6, 3-1 conf.) on two hits and three walks over 3-1/3 less-than-clean innings before ace Luikart came on with a runner at first and two outs in the sixth.
Facing the heart of the Hornets’ lineup, Luikart was overpowering, fanning all batters he faced while throwing strikes on 13 of his 19 deliveries as he saved it for Little and Lafayette.
Statistically, both teams collected only four hits with neither having a player with more than one of those eight total safeties.
On the mound, tough-luck loser Baxter (1-3) struck out seven in his outstanding, route-going performance. The trio of Lafayette pitchers fanned the Hornets 11 times.
Chillicothe had two of the game’s three errors and left eight runners on base – four in scoring position, compared to LHS’ four overall.
For both teams, their next action will be in this Thursday through Saturday’s Hornets Baseball Classic in Chillicothe.
The hosts will open the event by facing Macon at “June” Shaffer Memorial Park Stadium Thursday at 2 p.m. The Hornets also will tangle with St. Joseph: Benton later at about 6 p.m. after Benton and Macon meet, also on Shaffer’s “Chuck” Haney Field.
Likely tourney favorite Lafayette will be involved in bracketed competition Friday, starting at 4 p.m. at Daryl Danner Memorial Park “green” field against Cameron.
The Irish then will meet either Kirksville or Maryville right afterward, either at Danner Park again (if they lost) or at Shaffer Park (if they won).
The tournament’s three final-round games will be Saturday morning and early afternoon, again utilizing both sites.
Hosting Kirksville and minus varsity lineup regular Gabe Peterson, the racquet Hornets couldn’t quite overcome that absence, which might have meant the difference between the 5-4 loss which went in the books and reversing the outcome against a foe which also had prevailed 5-4 in a recent meeting at Kirksville.
Given the previous result, suggesting Peterson’s availability for the No. 3 doubles and No. 5 singles play he usually handles would have allowed Chillicothe to flip the final score seems dubious. However, it might have made those position sets and the No. 6 singles, in which Anthony Trantham had to step in and make his varsity debut, closer and potentially subject to outcome reversal.
As it was, Kirksville waltzed to the No. 3 doubles triumph without dropping a game against the first-time tandem of Shayden Hawkins (Peterson’s usual partner at No. 3) and Trantham and later posted 8-2 and 8-0 victories at Nos. 5 and 6 spots, respectively. Hawkins elevated to No. 5 in Peterson’s absence.
On the positive side for the Hornets (3-8 in all duals), junior top player Chace Corbin continued to have a very fine season, record-wise.
For a third time, he got the best of KHS’ Jacob Doman, this time winning 8-6. That raised Ch. Corbin’s season record in No. 1 singles to a sparkling 12-3 going into Wednesday’s (April 28) Midland Empire Conference Championships at St. Joseph’s Noyes Tennis Center.
That victory came after the 11th grader and classmate Emmett Young had elevated their No. 2 doubles mark to an even-glossier 7-1 with an 8-4 victory.
Chillicothe also took the Nos. 2 and 3 singles, giving it a sweep of the top three spots in singles.
At No. 2, senior Caleb Corbin inched over .500 (6-5) on the season in singles by defeating Tigers freshman Gavin Pike 8-4 in the second of three meetings this spring.
In No. 3 slot, Hornets senior Carter Allen avenged a 4-8 loss to Tanner Peterson at Kirksville by reversing that score.
The non-conference match’s top doubles set was snared handily by KHS’ Doman and Pike, 8-3 over the Chillicothe senior duo of Ca. Corbin and Allen.
Young dropped the No. 4 singles set 1-8 and Hawkins No. 5 play 2-8.