Stone, Howe prove solid, but Catfish hot streak ends with loss

Cape Catfish player Andrew Stone (19) hits a triple during the first inning against Quincy Thursday at Capaha Field.
Tyler Graef ~ Southeast Missourian

After losing four games in a row, the Cape Catfish recently rebounded to win their next three. The keys to those victories and losses were evident: big hits in the wins and huge innings by their opponents in the defeats.

Cape endured the latter Thursday as Quincy hit a home run in a big fourth inning to defeat the Catfish 7-3 at Capaha Field.

It was the third home loss in a row for the Catfish (25-13), who saw their three-game win streak halted.

What has been the norm for Cape is starting off hot and it did just that again.

Andrew Stone broke out of his hitless streak in Wednesday’s win by going 4-for-4 with two homers. So, what did he do for an encore Thursday?

The West Virginia State athlete continued his hot streak by smacking a lead-off triple into the centerfield gap to open the game. Stone came into the night leading the Prospect League in hits and is second in batting average at .394.

The Catfish got a sacrifice-fly from Southeast Missouri State’s Andrew Keck to bring Stone home for an early 1-0 lead.

Stone also doubled in his second at-bat in the third, but Cape was unable to get any more hits in that inning.

Despite the defeat, the potential All-Star remained in high spirits as he found his groove at the plate.

“When I got my first hit, I was like ‘Thank you, God,’” Stone said. “Tonight, it felt good to get a couple more hits. Although we came up short, we’ve got to put this game behind us and have a short memory. The good thing about baseball is that we get to play them (Quincy) again.”

Stone finished 2-for-4 to up his hit total to 56 on the season.

Cape manager Steve Larkin spoke highly of Stone after the game.

“Andrew Stone is a special player,” Larkin said. “He works hard, comes in with a smile on his face and is a great ballplayer. He bounced back in a big way the last game and kept his hot bat tonight. He’s a player that you’d want to have on your team.”

It was also starting pitcher Tommy Springer’s birthday and the University of Missouri right-hander celebrated his 19th year by striking out some Gems’ hitters in the first three innings.

However, as the fourth inning came, Springer’s momentum began to fade, as Quincy’s Tyler Clark-Chiapparelli’s single scored Drew Behling to tie the game at 1-1. A passed ball that fell out of Keck’s glove allowed Joey Polak, who doubled, to score also. Cade Schares then hit a grounder that ricocheted off Springer’s and second baseman Ryan Howe’s gloves to score two runs on the play for a 4-1 Gems lead.

Cape’s John Behrends’ RBI single in the fourth brought home Ellison Hanna II, who also singled, to bring the Catfish within 4-2. That was as close as Cape got the rest of the way as the Gems (21-17) answered right back.

Clark-Chiapparelli got a hold of a Springer fastball in the fifth for a solo home run to make it 5-2, to chase Springer.

He finished with 4 and 2/3 innings worked with five earned runs on six hits. He walked three and struck out five, earning his third loss of the season.

Gage Smart came on to relieve him and gave up a two-run homer to Polak, which made it 7-2.

Catfish hitter Curtis Washington Jr. hit a solo home run in the eighth inning to make to final score 7-3.

“It felt good,” Washington said afterward about his home run.

One of the other few bright spots was the return of Howe. The Purdue University sophomore had been out since June 12, ironically against Quincy, due to concussion-like symptoms.

He singled in his first at-bat and also doubled in the seventh.

“I was really nervous at first because I had been out for so long,” Howe said. “It was awesome to get that first hit and just to be back on the field with my friends.”

Cape hits the road as it will face Quincy Friday at 7:05 p.m.

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