Cassville Post 118 wins wood bat tourney
The gold jerseys of Irwin-Easley Post 118 may never be seen again. Coach Jeremy Marple squashed any notion of ditching the dark blue tops for the lighter and cooler gold ones, and made the old school decision to ride the winning streak.
The Cassville team then edged Monett Post 91 4-3 to win the Marcus O'Hara American Legion Tournament at Monett on Saturday night. The win extended Post 118's winning streak to nine games, all in dark blue.
The Monett team did not go quietly into the night though. After Jamie Musick set down the host team in order to start the game, Cassville struck for a quick 4-0 advantage in the bottom of the first inning, with both Taran Holt and Colton Beck connecting for RBI's. Two more runs crossed due to defensive errors.
The Irwin-Easley team would not score again in the contest. Jared Barchak took control of the game from the hill, and held Post 118 scoreless for the next four innings.
Meanwhile, Monett inched back into the game, scoring one run apiece in the third, fourth and fifth innings. In the third, Brendan Meeks walked, stole second and scored on a RBI single from Colten Phillips. Monett scratched out a run in the fourth inning on a two-out rally, when Barchak scored on a Cassville error.
The time limit played an important role in the game, as only five innings were completed in the allotted span. Monett turned a leadoff walk by Pokey Henderson into a third run on Jake Smith's two-out double.
With the tying run on second base and the lead run coming to bat in the form of Andy Hagadorn, Coach Marple called on fireman Jon Riley to put out the flames. The ace reliever burned one fast ball close to Hagadorn's chin, and the next one resulted in a weak pop up back to Riley to end the game.
"We scored four in the first inning and didn't do much after that," commented Marple after the game. "I have a lot of confidence in Jamie Musick but wanted to bring in Riley since he only threw 10 pitches on Friday."
The Cassville coaches used exceptional preparation for the wood bat tournament. Whereas some teams appeared to be trying to murder the ball with the unfamiliar sticks, Marple stressed the small ball concept.
"We just wanted to put the ball on the ground and put pressure on the defense to make plays," Marple explained when questioned about his team's unexpected bunting propensity.
The Monett Post 91 team left the field with their heads high. The home team lost the championship by only a single run, and Coach Blaine Trout's club played with fierce determination in the final innings.