By Christopher Tenpenny
The Harrisonville baseball team was able to put an end to its eight-game losing streak following a 6-3 win over Warsaw April 19 at Harrisonville.
The Cats played a complete game, executing on both offense and defense.
“That’s the best game we’ve played all year,” Harrisonville head coach Dave Hix said. “We had a team meeting earlier in the week and looked over some stats showing we were playing better than our record indicated. We just needed to play a complete game and they were able to do that against a good Warsaw team.”
Warsaw was able to score first, but Harrisonville answered right back as Drew Appleman hit a sacrifice fly to score Jake Brines in the bottom of the inning.
After Appleman worked a scoreless second inning, it looked like the Cats might suffer the same fate. Then with two outs, catcher and No. 9 hitter Layne Curtis hit a double to right field to keep the inning alive. The brought up leadoff hitter Cameron Loeffel to plate who hit a single up the middle. Then the fun began. Pinch runner Mason Worthley raced around third to try and score on the single.
Worthley would slide into home safely as the throw sailed over the Warsaw catchers head. Meanwhile, Loeffel raced to third on a throwing error, only for the Warsaw catcher to overthrow third base. Loeffel would then race home, scoring a run and completing the little league inside-the park home run. After all the that, the Cats led 3-1.
“Those are fun to watch when they happen for your team,” Hix said. “Cam did a good job of putting pressure on the defense and ended up scoring a run for us.”
Tucker Vassar would pitch in relief in the third inning. Vassar would pitch three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out three. Vassar would also add an RBI single in the bottom of the third inning, scoring Jake Goss who led the inning off with a double. Aaron Brines would break the game open with a two-run single later in the inning. After three innings, the Cats led 6-1.
Warsaw would fight back, adding two runs in the sixth, but Logan Roberts would slam the door in the seventh to earn the save.
The win was Harrisonville’s second of the season as the team has struggled to find its footing both on the mound and at the plate. The team has a team average of .228 on the season.
Two hitters not struggling at the plate are Jake Goss and Jake Brines. Brines is hitting .324 while Goss is hitting a whopping .485. Hix said the two’s ability to hit the fastball has set them apart.
“They do a great job of hunting the fastball and not trying to do too much,” Hix said. “It’s a mindset we’ve tried to incorporate as a team. We want to be aggressive, hunt fastballs and not press.”
The pitching has also struggled for the Cats this season, allowing nearly 10 runs per game. Appleman has the best stuff in the dugout with 23 strikeouts during 19 innings, but command has been an issue at times as he also has 23 walks. Jake Goss has allowed only two runs in six innings of work and Nate Lyon has just seven walks over 14 innings.
“We just need to attack the strike zone and trust our defense,” Hix said. “We aren’t strikeout pitchers. Our defense has been good all season. Our pitchers need to use it.”
Following the win against Warsaw, the Cats would drop the next two games. Both games were close as the Cats lost to Belton 3-1 April 20 and then the next day to Clinton 7-4. While the team was hoping to come out on top, Hix said he likes the brand of baseball the team has been playing.
“These guys go out and work hard every day,” Hix said. “I think the Warsaw game gave us some confidence that we can compete, but we still came up short. A big thing for us is play with the lead. It’s much better to play from in front than try and comeback from behind. That’s what we are still working towards.”
Harrisonville’s next game will be tonight as Oak Grove comes to town. First pitch will be at 4:30 p.m.