Chillicothe (Mo.) HS baseball Hornets' extreme generosity results in 16-8 tourney loss
St. Joseph: Benton benefits from seven errors, 10 walks, three HBP to place dozen unearned runs Thursday
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
A St. Joseph: Benton Cardinals high school baseball team which at 7-9, came into Thursday’s first day of the Hornets Baseball Classic tournament with the poorest record of the three teams in its pool, headed back home having secured a spot in Saturday’s midday championship game.
Benton followed Macon’s 8-6 9-innings miracle comeback over host Chillicothe (7-9) with a 16-8 smackdown of the tired Tigers (12-2), then gratefully accepted extreme CHS largesse in the form of seven errors, 10 walks, and three hit batsmen to stroll to a 16-8 triumph in Thursday’s “pool” denouement.
The pair of high-output victories both squared the Cardinals’ season record at 9-9 and left them with a day’s rest before meeting the survivor of Friday’s bracketed half of the 7-teams tournament for the crown at 11 a.m. Saturday at “June” Shaffer Memorial Park Stadium’s “Chuck” Haney Field.
Competing Friday to see which will be the south St. Joseph team’s opponent n the championship contest will be St. Joseph: Lafayette, Maryville, Kirksville and Cameron.
Undoubtedly emotionally and psychologically dented by their late collapse against the strong Macon squad earlier in the day, Chillicothe’s Hornets had little spark as they returned to the Haney Field diamond for Thursday’s final contest.
Playing as the home team, they immediately surrendered four runs to Benton in the top of the first inning even though the Cardinals had only two hits – one of them on the infield. Starting and losing pitcher Gage Leamer (4-3) walked three and was undercut by two errors behind him before escaping a worse fate with an inning-ending double play turned nicely by shortstop Mason Baxter and second sacker Brock Miller.
When the Hornets were themselves gifted a pair of opening-inning runs despite no hits – they received three walks and scored on a wild pitch and groundout, they found themselves immediately back on close terms, but only briefly.
The first three Benton batters in the second reached without putting the ball in play, followed by two more CHS errors. Batting around for a second inning in a row, the Cardinals doubled their runs total for an 8-2 lead.
Yet again, Benton invited the Hornets back into contention. Three more free passes, a hit batsman, and a throwing error which allowed three runs to score on a routine grounder to third base sent the contest to the third inning with an 8-5 count, favoring Benton, even though the teams had combined for only two hits, both by the St. Joe squad.
When the San Jose south-siders shockingly failed to score in the third – they left a man on third, Chillicothe had a chance, if it could get to Cardinals starting pitcher Max Haywood for a third-straight inning, to get even or perhaps take a lead. However, it followed Benton’s lead, being retired without scoring for the first time.
Then the roof caved in on the host Hornets and their junior starting pitcher.
An error beginning the top of the fourth was followed by Quinton Redemer’s long double to left-center field, rejuvenating the run scoring.
A walk and, after a run-scoring groundout, a hit batter finally prompted the removal of the CHS starting hurler and insertion – after momentary confusion – of senior righty Tucker Wagers, who had been playing third base.
The new Chillicothe pitcher got the first batter he faced, but an infield hit scored a run, making it 11-5. After a bases-loading walk, Benton catcher Jackson Kanacsky pulled a sharp single through the left side of the infield, making it a 5-runs inning and 13-5 game.
Like Benton, CHS returned to its scoring ways in its half of the fourth, but, for a third time, couldn’t match Benton’s volume.
A long leadoff double to left by T. Wagers broke up the Benton no-hitter, a dropped infield pop fly, and a soft, run-scoring single over the head of the shortstop by Griff Bonderer made it 13-6.
A successful double-steal on which Baxter slid home safely shaved another run off the margin and, after Bonderer moved on to third on a groundout, a wild pitch sent him dashing home.
Before Chillicothe could get back to the plate for more swings, however, that changed again.
In the visitors’ fifth, a 1-out walk preceded an infield hit and a much-louder single to center field made the score 14-8. After a bases-filling walk issued by T. Wagers – the 10th CHS pitchers had handed out, the third hit batsman forced in run No . 15 and ended the relief hurler’s stint.
Freshman Alijah Hibner was greeted with a sacrifice fly to center before the next batter grounded out, ending the inning.
With the game’s 1:45 time limit having passed, Chillicothe came to bat in the fifth knowing it was now or never.
Although it did receive its eighth walk and Baxter singled with two outs, a fly fall to shallow right was caught on the run, ending the inning and, after nearly 250 pitches in a mere five frames, the game with the Hornets having been doubled up.
Statistically, Benton out-hit Chillicothe 7-3, but it was the dozen unearned BHS runs from the 7-1 disparity in errors that was far too much to offset.
Winning relief pitcher Korbin Lamb-Bodde, who took over with one out in the second and finished, had a perfect night at bat across five plate appearances, even though he had only one hit – a run-scoring infield single. He was given three walks and forced home the final run when hit by a pitch.
Neither side had a batter with more than one hit. For Chillicothe, Baxter reached safely in all four plate appearances via two bases on balls, an error, and his last-inning single. Bonderer drove in two runs.