(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
CHARLESTON -- Putting together three separate three-run rallies, the Missouri Bulls 14U team notched a 10-5 win against the Charleston Woodpeckers on Wednesday in the first game of a wood bat double header.
"The kids came out ready to swing the bats," Bulls' head coach Matt Bucher said. "It's been a rough couple weeks for us. We've been down to a tournament in Cordova, Tenn. and one in South Haven, Miss. last weekend and came out 0-8 against some great teams.
"(Charleston) made a couple of errors that cost them some runs and we capitalized on it. I give props to our hitters for putting the ball in play and putting the pressure on them and to our pitchers for coming out and throwing strikes."
After two scoreless innings, the Bulls were the first to draw blood as they took advantage of an error on a bunt to plate Jordan Kluesner from second in the top of the third. Two at-bats later, Conner McGarr scored another two runs on a grounder that rolled into left field as Missouri went up 3-0.
Back up in the fourth, the Bulls put up another three runs to take their biggest lead of the night at 6-0.
An RBI single from Paris Johnson started the rally before a bases-loaded walk to Pearson McClendon scored another run. With the bases still packed, an infield error by the Woodpeckers gave the Bulls a six-run advantage.
Just when it looked like Missouri was running away, however, Charleston made a push to take their first lead of the night when they loaded the bases to open the bottom of the fifth.
Charleston scored it's first run of the evening on a bases-loaded walk to Austin Hailey before Trey Bledsoe beat out an infield single to make it 6-2.
Still with no outs, Luke Harris cleared the base paths with a double to left field that brought the Woodpeckers to within a run of Missouri.
Though Harris stood at second with no outs,representing the tying run, he was stranded at third when three of the next four batters made an out.
"If you look back at that inning, they gave up a double play ball to third that we booted and another one to second that we booted," Bucher said of Charleston's run. "That happens, so it's all about how (our guys) come through adversity at times."
Before the Woodpeckers could get any closer, Missouri responded to Charleston's rally with one final three-run inning in the top of of the sixth that pushed them ahead 9-5. Back-to-back Woodpeckers errors plated the first two runs of the frame as Charleston committed a total of three in the sixth.
A fielder's choice by Garon Turner capped the rally and the Bulls added one final run in the seventh on Johnson's second hit of the evening.
Frustrated with his team's six errors and various mental lapses throughout the game, Charleston coach Michael Minner said, "We stay in ball games, but we have to find ways to take it to the next level. Winning isn't important to me, but what is important is doing the right things. When there's a bunt we have to move up. Whenever there's a pop up we have to catch it.
"That's what I told them. We're not handing out cookies and the golf claps have got to go. This is not T-ball where some kid got his first catch. This is high school and this is big time baseball where if the ball goes up in air you have to catch it. A ground ball to short, we have to roll two."
Minner continued, "Those are not things that we're not handing out bonuses for. Those are things the game was created about and you have to do it. And if you can't do it, we can't be successful and those guys can't be on the field."
Results of the night's second game were not available at press time.
Missouri 003 303 1 - 10 6 5
Charleston 000 050 0 - 5 6 6
WP -- Tristan Holmes. LP -- Casey Tatum. Multiple hitters: (M) Paris Johnson 2-4; (C) Luke Harris 2-2. 2B -- (C) Harris.