Semoball

Walks, defense cost East Prairie chance at upset of tough Chaffee squad

East Prairie High School baseball coach Gary Scott speaks to his team following a recent game at Risco High School. The Eagles fell 4-1 to Chaffee on Monday in East Prairie.
Tom Davis ~ Tdavis@semoball.com

In some regards, what veteran East Prairie High School baseball coach Gary Scott has asked of his pitchers was evident in Monday’s 4-1 loss to Class 2 No. 3-ranked Chaffee in East Prairie.

“We want our pitchers to make pitches,” Scott said recently. “We don’t want to throw it down the middle, but we want to throw the ball in the strike zone (and) get ahead in the count.

“You’ve got fielders out there for a reason.”

That reason proved to be the Eagles’ downfall against the Red Devils (9-1).

Scott used three Eagle pitchers, who combined to limit the usually explosive Chaffee offense to a mere four hits by throwing 88 strikes. However, allowing seven walks and committing five defensive miscues were insurmountable.

East Prairie jumped on Chaffee starter Levi McKinnie quickly, as the hosts turned three singles by senior Hunter Newton, juniors Ty Wallace and Winfield White, and a walk drawn by senior Owen Knight into a 1-0 advantage.

However, McKinnie, a Jefferson College commit, settled down and was very impressive throughout the remainder of his night.

McKinnie ultimately threw six innings and gave up just three hits, one earned run, walking two, and striking out 10 Eagle batters.

Knight drew the start for East Prairie and only gave up one hit and two earned runs but walked six Red Devils while striking out seven.

“A lot of times,” Scott continued, “they hit it right at you and you make plays. We always say that you can’t defend a walk. We do want to throw strikes, and if they hit it, that is part of it.”

Knight worked into the fifth inning but gave up a lead-off walk to McKinnie, which was followed by an Eagle error and another walk, this time to Chaffee junior Connor Berry.

East Prairie sophomore Jack Pearson relieved Knight with the score tied at one run apiece, but he allowed an RBI single to Chaffee senior Peyton Vaughn that scored McKinnie for a 2-1 margin.

Red Devil senior Eli Glueck brought home freshman Grant Johnson for a 3-1 score, which left the bases loaded and set up Chaffee’s final run.

Pearson hit senior Kade Atkins with a pitch, which scored Berry for the final margin.

Gleuck led the Red Devil offense with two hits to go with his two RBI and a walk while sophomore Leyton Hanback (two walks), McKinnie (one run, two walks), senior Carson Spies (one hit), Berry (two runs, one walk), Vaughn (one hit, one RBI), and Atkins (one RBI, one walk) also were productive.

Gleuck was also solid on the mound, as he closed the game with one inning of relief and didn’t allow a hit or a run while walking one and striking out one.

Newton paced East Prairie (5-5) with one hit and a run scored while Wallace (one hit), White (one hit, one RBI), Knight (one walk), and junior William Jarvis (one walk) also contributed.

Pearson threw 1 2/3 innings and allowed three hits, no earned runs, one walk, and one strikeout while White closed the game by not allowing a hit or a run in the final inning.

The defeat was the third in four games for East Prairie, who will visit South Pemiscot (1-7) today at 4:30 p.m.

Chaffee will visit Bell City (4-1) on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

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