During North Central Missouri Conference competition, the Moberly varsity baseball team got the better of Mexico every time they met during the regular season, and they even beat them in tournament play just for good measure.
That made the Spartans the definite favorites on Saturday when these two squads collided once again in the first round of Class 4, District 8, at Boonville. But, when the Bulldogs Ty Prince hit a homerun in the very first at-bat of the game, the past became exactly that and it was all action after that. Moberly was definitely ready for a fight, though, and was tied with Mexico 4-4 until giving up a run in the top of the fourth, and that's when a close contest began slipping away.
The Bulldogs rallied for the rest of the game after that, scoring four runs in the top of the fifth, three in the top of the sixth and nine in the top of the seventh to take an overwhelming 21-4 lead. The Spartans never quit despite the size of their disadvantage and put another five runs on the board in the bottom of the stanza, but some bridges simply aren't meant to be crossed, which is why Mexico came out on top 21-9.
"Ty Prince had a great day. He hadn't hit a homerun all season. He's hit the ball well, but he had two homeruns today, and they were nice shots," said Mexico coach Keith Louder. "That's a big things, and he wasn't the only one. Cody Rowe had a homerun. Collin Clay hit a homerun. Four homeruns is a pretty good day."
Moberly took early control in the bottom of the second when it was down 2-1 and Braeden Wetrich led off by getting hit by a pitch and Josh Price singled to right field. After the duo pulled off a double steal, Dawson Carver singled to right, but the runners were forced to hold their ground. That allowed Isaiah Kitchen to drive them both home with a double to right field, so when Ben Heimann hit a ground ball that the Bulldogs shortstop threw high, Kitchen also was able to score and put his team up 4-2.
"I'm extremely proud of this season. Obviously this isn't the way we wanted to go out, but overall this season we doubled every offensive stat," said Moberly coach Dale Heimann. "Our strikeouts are almost cut in half. We need to continue to work on our pitching for next year. I'm extremely proud of these boys. We scored more runs than we have in a long time. This is the first time we've had a winning record in five years. Our seniors were great leaders and they helped set the tradition."
Mexico's answer came in the top of the third when it tied the game starting with a Marquis Smith bunt that landed him on second base on a throwing error by the Spartans defense. When the exact same thing happened to the very next batter, Cole Whalen, Smith turned on the jets and made it all the way home.
Next up Quinton Baumgartner, and when he flied out to deep left field and Whalen was also called out for not tagging up, nobody in the Bulldogs dugout was happy, but after a short conversation play resumed.
"We talked beforehand that if we could play a complete game, which we really hadn't done all year, meaning winning the hitting side of the game, win on defense and winning the pitching side of the game, we should be able to come out on top," Louder said. "I felt like for the first time all season we accomplished all three things."
Instead of holding on to that frustration Cody Rowe stepped up and clocked a double to right field and Zach Watkins drilled a shot for Mexico that bounced off the top of the pitchers glove to put runners on first and third. When Cameron Baumgartner then came through with a well-place single to short centerfield, Rowe came home and that made it a 4-4 game.
"Mexico was just hitting the ball. They had 24 hits. They were just smacking the ball," Heimann said. "It was one of those magical days. Everything they hit found a hole. Evrything was a blooper over the shortstops head or in the hole. We just couldn't battle back. Once you get down like that, there's nothing we could do about that."
Mexico next plays Boonville on Monday in round two of Districts at Boonville.