Next up for Bulldogs is district competition
They did it. They got the win. It took nearly three days and a change of venue, but the MHS Bulldogs varsity baseball team secured the 3-1 win over the Moberly Spartans and are now North Central Missouri Conference co-champions.
The game started Monday at home in Mexico. It was Senior Night with all its inherent pageantry including the mothers of the senior players and MHS team scorekeeper senior Chelsea McCord throwing out the ceremonial first 'pitch' to the senior players.
Senior pitcher Gavin Jones was on the mound for the Bulldogs. Although the Spartans would load the bases in the first inning, Jones and the rest of the Bulldogs defense kept them off the scoreboard. The Spartans, however, would have no luck leashing the Bulldogs in the bottom of the first inning.
Tyler Bracht led off for MHS and was hit by a pitch, sending the speedster to first. Cody Creed's base hit to right field would then set the Bulldogs up with runners at first and second. Frank Nickoley then calmly dropped a perfectly placed bunt that saw Bracht score and Nickoley safe at first. (Spencer Thomas replaced Nickoley on the base paths as a courtesy runner.) Jones came to the plate next and was also hit by a pitch to load the bases. (Karsten Ekern replaced Jones on base as a courtesy runner.) Wesley Oetting then drove a deep fly ball to the outfield for the first out but Creed tagged up from third and scored. MHS was unable to muster any more runs in the inning but had the lead, which they would never relinquish.
The Bulldogs would add their third run in the bottom of the third. MHS was down two outs when Jones came to the plate for his second appearance in the game. His smashing shot cut the air with an angry hiss as it stayed just inside the line down the third base line. Jones would end up with a stand up double. (Ekern once again replaced Jones on base as a courtesy runner.) Oetting then fired off a base hit shot of his own that brought Ekern home. D'Milo Nunnelly then cracked a base hit and would advance on the overthrown ball from the defender to first. Oetting, who showed great hustle and base running awareness, was, unfortunately, narrowly thrown out at home. But the Bulldogs had three runs and the lead; like its namesake, the team was not about to let go of either.
That resolve was to be tested, however. A flash of lightning and a band of thunderstorms forced the postponement of the game early in the fourth inning. More inclement weather left the home field unplayable yesterday necessitating a last minute change of venue to Moberly.
MHS, and Jones especially, were not fazed by the changes.
“We wanted to play the game,” said MHS Coach Keith Louder. “On the bus up here we asked them to get settled down. It was a quiet focused ride. We took care of business, did our jobs and got the win.”
With no outs, one Moberly runner on second and a Moberly batter with an 0-2 count in the box, Jones delivered his first pitch to restart the game with precision; a strike for the first out. The Bulldogs would calmly dispatch the rest of the side. The only defensive hiccup for the Bulldogs was a Spartans solo home run in the top of the fifth. Other than that, MHS would pick up the win easily.
Jones (8-1) went six innings to claim the win, striking out five, walking one, hitting two batters and giving up seven hits, including a home run, that resulted in only one earned run. Bracht would pitch the last inning for the save, striking out one and walking one. Defensively, MHS would commit two errors.
The Bulldogs would get three runs from five hits and leave just three runners on the base paths. Bracht went 1-2 and was hit by a pitch. Creed went 1-3 and scored a run. Nickoley went 1-3 with an RBI. Jones went 1-2 with a double and was hit by a pitch. Oetting went 1-3 with two RBI's. Nunnelly went 1-3. Ekern scored a run (as a courtesy runner.)
MHS has won seven straight and 11 of the last 12, outscoring opponents 54-20.
It's on to the MSHSAA Class 4, District 8 tournament for the Bulldogs. MHS will play Monday at 1 p.m. in boonville against the winner of the Fulton vs. Missouri Military Academy first round game.