Diamond Eagles flying high

Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Andres Aldaba gobbles up a ground ball to third base for the Eagles Friday in a win over Sparta. Jared Lankford/sports@cassville-democrat.com

Purdy pounding path toward playoffs

Without a doubt, the hottest baseball team in the bi-county area right now is located in Purdy.

The Eagles are 10-1 and ranked No. 10 in Class 2. The lone blemish on their record was a razor thin, 4-3 loss to Monett, in which Division 1 Arkansas-committed pitching ace Corey Spain secured a victory for the Cubs.

Zane Brown brings a pitch home for the Eagles in a win over Sparta on Friday. Jared Lankford/sports@cassville-democrat.com

Purdy, with a talented group that only starts two seniors, has taken no prisoners this season and has been explosive offensively, scoring 9 or more runs in nine of its 10 games.

Three times this season, the black and gold has enacted the new mercy rule of leading teams by 15 or more runs after three innings of play.

On Friday, Purdy took apart Sparta, 24-0, scoring every run in the first inning, batting around three full times and sending a total of 30 men to the plate in the frame.

“I give Coach [Dereck] Mann the credit for our offense,” said Joshua Hughes, Purdy coach. “He came in last year and changed some things up, and I gave him the reins to the hitting, and he has done a great job with that. You can see that our kids are buying into what he is preaching in the cage, and we’re hitting the ball to all parts of the field.”

As a team, the Eagles are hitting .416 with an on-base-percentage of .540.

They have scored 150 runs and have 121 RBI. At the plate, nearly one-third of their 117 hits have gone for extra bases.

When Purdy runners reach base, they wreak havoc on the opposing pitcher and defense with a ground game that has stolen 57 bases and been successful 84 percent of the time.

Hughes said the team does not have what he would define as an ace on the mound. The five starters the team has used this season have a 3.39 ERA, allowing 28 earned runs in 57 and two-thirds innings.

“We don’t have a set No. 1, but I have four or five kids that we can run out there that I feel confident in,” Hughes said. “We haven’t given up a lot of runs, but there have been times that we bent, but didn’t break. Against College Heights the other night, Mason [Schallert] gave up some runs early,

but then found his stride and shut it off. Against Pierce City, we led 6-0, then it was 6-5 before we went on to win 15-5. We’re bending, but not breaking.”

Against Sparta, the Eagles did not waste time taking advantage of 24 hits, seven walks and three hit batters to take a 24-0 lead.

Schallert had 4 RBI, and Osiel Aldava collected 5 RBI for the Eagles.

“I told the team after the game that you always want to stay focused,” Hughes said. “Two different times in the first, we didn’t get off the base quickly with two outs and the ball in play. We have to stay mentally fixed. That’s something we can fix.

“We still need to to get better defensively. Between games and rain, we haven’t had a chance to practice much. Monday and Tuesday we don’t have a game scheduled and we are going to make great use of that time to work on some of those things that we’ve talked with the team about, but not had the time to really work on and improve upon.”

Purdy travels to Crane today to face the Pirates.

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