Purdy "squeezes" past Monett in eight innings
Purdy Eagles baseball coach Joshua Hughes picked the right play, at the right time and had the right player to make it succeed as Purdy defeated Monett 4-3 in eight innings at Seneca on March 27.
Reese Veith, the shortest player on the Eagles' roster at 4'5", came to the plate with runners on second and third with one away in the bottom of the eighth.
"Coach Hughes had told me to get ready in the seventh inning because he might need me to hit," said Veith. "I was nervous when I went to the plate but I knew I had a job to do."
Veith took the first pitch for a ball. On the second offering from the Monett pitcher, he pushed the ball up the third baseline. Purdy's Alex Mareth, the runner at third, broke for home and slid under the tag of Kyle McCallister to score the winning run on a perfectly executed suicide squeeze.
The Eagles' stormed out of the dugout and lifted Veith on their shoulders and carried him off the field.
"I initially tried to run away from them (the team)," said Veith. "But they quickly caught me. It was the best feeling in the world."
Coach Hughes had high praise for his junior reserve.
"I am so proud of Reese," said Hughes. "People look at him and dismiss him as an athlete because of his height. He has played a lot of baseball. I didn't send him to the plate expecting him to walk. I sent him there to hit the ball."
The match-up between the Barry County neighbors was scheduled for Monett's at North Park.
However, wet field conditions made the home of the Cubs unplayable and Seneca High School graciously offered its field as an alterative.
Purdy won the coin toss and elected to be the home team.
Each squad sent their left-handed ace to the mound: Crowder College commit Aaron Patton for Monett and All-Stater Cameron Terry for Purdy.
Terry worked a perfect first for the Eagles, but Patton wasn't as lucky.
An error and two walks allowed Mareth and Terry to drive in two runs in the first frame for Purdy.
The Eagles added an insurance run in the second when Austin Hancock scored on a Monett throwing error.
The Cubs settled down after the second inning. Patton retired 12 consecutive hitters and tied hit season high with 14 strikeouts.
The purple and gold offense scored single tallies in the third, fourth and sixth innings but stranded six runners in scoring position.
Jordan Hall and Cooper Caldwell each had an RBI single for Monett.
"We didn't play very well today," said Monett coach Michael Calhoun. "There are some things offensively that we need to work on. When you struggle to do the little things right, you will struggle to win."
Monett sent Jason Kurima to the mound in the bottom of the eighth.
Eagles' cleanup hitter Heath Burnside drew a leadoff walk and Mareth reached on an infield single.
Keevin Walker singled to center field but an outstanding throw to the plate by Monett's Isaac Long was in time to get Burnside out.
Hughes then sent Veith to the plate.
Terry earned the victory. He threw eight innings, struck out eight, and walked two, allowed eight hits and three runs.