Senior baseball players highlight Sunday afternoon with a tripleheader at Chaffee
Tom Davis/Southeast Missourian
CHAFFEE, Mo. — A beautiful, sunshine-filled afternoon is just what the doctor ordered as baseball returned to Southeast Missouri.
Three five-inning games took place at Harmon Field, in Chaffee, on Sunday, featuring senior athletes from eight Scott-Mississippi County Conference teams.
“I thought it was a neat deal,” Charleston head coach Michael Minner said. “It’s good for these kids to get out here. Some of these guys have worked hard to put this event on, and my hats off to them. There’s been a lot of leg work for something to go on, and there was a great crowd. It’s been a beautiful day.”
In the first game of the triple-header, Scott City defeated a team mixed of Delta, Oak Ridge, East Prairie, and Kelly, 2-1.
The Rams had 11 seniors on the roster and took advantage early by scoring first.
Jimmy May led off the game by drawing a walk, while Joe Panagos advanced him to second on a single.
Spencer Stratman then grounded into a double play after Kelly’s Devin Heuring tagged May out advancing to third and then darted the ball across the diamond to retire the hustling Stratman as well.
Josh Schmitt then drew a walk to put runners on first and second with two away.
Following that, Landon O’Brien created the first run of the game as he hit a bloop single between right and center field, scoring Panagos and advancing Schmitt to third in the process.
Kelly hurler Grant Menz did not allow any more runs to cross home plate, though, as he struck out Ramsey Evans looking to end the inning with minimal damage.
The Hawks would respond in the following half-inning, however, to tie the game.
Heuring started the inning by getting hit by a pitch.
Delta’s Grant Coomer would then fly out to right field, while Jon Bond followed with a walk to push Heuring into scoring position with one man retired.
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East Prairie’s Lane Moody then uncorked a double on the fourth pitch he saw, driving in Heuring and advancing Bond to third. The threat stopped there, though, as Scott City got out of the jam with back-to-back strikeouts of Menz and Oak Ridge’s Bryce Hahs.
“Moody hit a ball in the gap, and I knew it was down right away,” said Heuring on scoring the only run for his team. “I knew it was a good opportunity for me to score, so I turned on the burners and jetted home.”
Moving to the top of the fourth, Scott City took the lead once again, but would not relinquish it.
Panagos started the inning off with a walk, while Stratman followed with a base on balls of his own.
Then, one batter later, the Rams found themselves with a golden opportunity, with the bases loaded and not one out recorded, after Schmitt got hit by a pitch.
In the ensuing at-bat, O’Brien hit a ball right back to the pitcher, who threw the ball home for the force out, and the bases still loaded for Evans.
After working a five-pitch at-bat, Evans would ground the ball right to Menz at second, who turned it to Heuring to attempt to complete the double play.
Evans would beat the throw, allowing the run to cross and give the Rams a 2-1 advantage, and eventually the win altogether.
“It felt pretty good just donning an East Prairie jersey one more time,” said East Prairie’s Zack Triplett on being back on the field and playing. “It felt good to be teamed up with all of the other seniors around here that I like. They’re nice people.”
Game two of the afternoon ended in a stalemate, as the team mixed of Delta, Oak Ridge, East Prairie, and Kelly tied the team of Charleston, Chaffee, and Oran at one.
Both runs crossed in the latter innings of the game, with the Charleston-featured side gaining momentum first.
Charleston’s Sam Bledsoe started the bottom of the fourth off by reaching on a double.
He then advanced to third after a single by Chaffee’s Cole Dannenmueller and scored the first run on an error.
Then, in the next half-inning, the Kelly-featured side returned the favor.
Moody got the rally started with a one-out single.
Back-to-back base hits by Menz and Hahs would then load the bases, before Oak Ridge’s Dylan Muench struck out, giving the Charleston side a brief sigh of relief.
Following the strikeout, fellow Oak Ridge senior Ethan Puchbauer drew a walk — after working a full count — to score Moody, and tie the game.
The afternoon's final game proved to be the most exciting as the Scott City seniors walked off the team of Charleston, Oran, and Chaffee 3-2.
Just as they did in their first game, the Rams took control early.
With runners on first and third base and one out retired, Scott City executed a double-steal to perfection, as Panagos scored from third and Schmitt advanced into scoring position.
Back-to-back strikeouts thwarted any further damage, though, as the game would remain at 1-0 until the last inning of the contest.
Chaffee’s Blain Rains started things off with a walk, while Charleston’s Eric Humphrey and Oran’s Jake Phillips reached on an error and a single, respectively, to load the bags with two outs and the top of the order due up.
Leadoff hitter and Oran graduate Kole Simms would then not waste much time to give his team a much-needed spark, as he hit a single that plated a pair of runs and give the home team on the scoreboard a 2-1 lead with three outs remaining.
Scott City, however, had the last laugh.
May reached base after getting drilled by a pitch and then advanced into scoring position after a balk was issued. Another hit by pitch — this time by Panagos — put runners on first and second before Stratman laced a double and plating a hustling May from second base.
Schmitt, who reached base in both of his previous appearances, then delivered the final blow, as he hit a bloop single between left and center field, scoring Panagos from third base and sending Scott City home with smiles and a victory to end the three-game slate.