Rhea's complete game leads 'Cats past Seneca
By Lee Stubblefield
The Cassville Wildcats were one shy of a dozen runs in defeating the Seneca Indians on Thursday afternoon by a score of 11-1. Kyle Rhea pitched all five innings of the rule-shortened contest at Wildcat Field and faced only 19 batters in collecting the win. Eric Esposito took the loss for Seneca.
The game between Big 8 schools was not a conference contest, but that didn't affect the energy or intensity levels of either team.
Rhea sat the Indians down in short order in the first frame with Ricky Vanderpool teaming with Colton Beck and John Cavness for a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. It was one of three innings in which Rhea would face the minimum of batters.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats swung the bats in the home half of the first like they owned controlling stock in Alcoa. Cassville's entire lineup cycled through the batter's box, and the 'Cats took a 6-0 lead.
Vanderpool and Evan Stubblefield clubbed RBI hits to the outfield grass. Two runs scored on passed balls and another on a throwing error in the field as Seneca self-destructed at the onset.
The Indians reached Rhea in the top of the second inning, pushing home a single run on a walk and an infield hit. Rhea shook off the slight damage and struck out Zack Kelley and Nathan Fortner in succession to end the inning.
Cassville scratched home another run in the bottom of the second. Travis Northern entered the game with a .556 batting average and added to his rep with an RBI single that chased Vanderpool home from third base.
Staked to a 7-1 lead, Rhea retired the Indians on just seven pitches in the top of the third.
Cassville piled on three more runs in the home half of the third. Cavness walked and went to third when Trevor Tanner reached base on a fielding error. Tanner stole second and then Cavness scored when Seneca's shortstop misplayed Trey Rose's ground ball.
Vanderpool crushed a two-RBI line drive past third and into the outfield corner to push the lead to 10-1.
Neither team scored in the fourth inning, the only frame in which Esposito did not allow a run.
Rhea issued a leadoff walk to start the fifth but retired the next three batters with a strikeout, force out and a routine infield groundout.
In the Cassville half of the fifth, Tanner reached on a one-out walk, and the Wildcats reached a first and second situation when the center fielder for the Indians misplayed Rose's fly ball in the gusting wind.
Vanderpool then stroked his fourth hit of the game to plate Tanner and invoke the 10-run rule.
Cassville batters banged out 11 hits and drew five walks in the game. Vanderpool went four-for-four in the game, with a double and four RBI. He also scored a run and had the game-winning RBI. Tanner had three hits, including a double, and scored four times.
Cassville improved to 4-1 with the victory.
The Wildcat jayvee squad also earned a dominating win over Seneca, beating the Indians 11-0.
Josh Sexton pitched all five innings. Ricky Nichols, Joel Maher and Ben Makela all had multiple hits in the contest.
The JV's record is now 2-0 after also beating Aurora 6-3.