The Harrisonville baseball team managed to get just four balls out of the infield, all of them outs, as Taylor Schubert led Smith-Cotton to a 1-0 win in the second game of the West Central Missouri Baseball Tournament Thursday at Dey Field at Liberty Park.
Schubert pitched seven innings, striking out five, walking one and allowing just two base runners to get into scoring position. At one stretch, he retired 10 Harrisonville batters in a row.
Schubert said he was able to get good location on his fastball.
“The four-seam and two-seam, they were running in,” he said.
He allowed two hits in the game, neither got out of the infield. In the first inning, Jake Cooper hit a sharp grounder to second which caught Steven Bradbury with a bad hop. Cooper made it as far as third but a diving catch by Chance McMullin in centerfield stranded him there.
Harrisonville’s other hit was a bunt single to lead off the sixth. After a sacrifice bunt to move the runner to second, Schubert struck out Cooper, then hit a batter before inducing a groundout to Luke Archibeque at short to end the inning.
“He threw a lot of strikes and let our defense work,” said Smith-Cotton coach Jud Kindle. “He didn’t have a ton of strikeouts, he just threw a ton of strikes and got a lot of groundballs. He got a lot of late movement on his fastball and that helped.”
Schubert kept his infielders busy. Of the 21 outs, 11 were grounders. Schubert struck out the lead-off hitter in the second, then didn’t strike out another batter until the final out of the fifth.
“I’m a groundball pitcher so I have to trust my defense,” he said. “I have to rely on them and I give all the credit to them. I was just doing my job and they were doing theirs. It put us on top.”
Of the last seven outs Schubert recorded, four were strikeouts. He set Nathan Davis down swinging to end the fifth, struck out Cooper in the sixth, then fanned the first to batters of the seventh.
“He was getting ahead of everybody,” Kindle said. “In the later innings his curveball was really working and they seemed not to be able to make an adjustment on it. When you’re throwing three or four pitches for strikes, it’s hard to time.”
On the other side, Cooper pitched a solid game for Harrisonville. He struck out one and walked four but only allowed two hits in the game, back-to-back singles by A.J. Paul and Dalton Zaremba in the second inning.
“He kept the ball down, the wind’s blowing in,” Kindle said. “When that happens, there’s not going to be a lot of hitting going on. They’re a good hitting ball club, we’re a good hitting ball club. We just haven;t shown the best approaches at the plate the last couple of games.”
Smith-Cotton’s lone run came in the top of the first. Bradbury was hit by a pitch and took second on a passed ball. With two out, Cody Kozak hit a grounder to third but the throw skipped past the first-baseman. Bradbury, running on contact with two out, was able to score on the error.
“Every team we play this year, looking at our schedule, is going to be a good game,” Kindle said. “So we’re got to keep doing the small things right and games will take care of themselves.”
Smith-Cotton threatened with two on in the second but Cooper got out of the inning with a fly ball and a grounder. He issued three walks in the third inning, but a pop out got Harrisonville out of the inning. After a lead-off walk in the fourth, Cooper retired the next seven Smith-Cotton batters and only allowed one base runner the rest of the way.
But Schubert was just as dominant. After a two-out walk in the second, Schubert ended the inning with a 1-3 groundout. The Wildcats then went down in order in the third, fourth and fifth with only two of those outs coming on fly balls to the outfield and the hardest hit ball was a line drive right back into Schubert’s glove.
Smith-Cotton (6-3) will play a pair of games tomorrow at Liberty Park, facing Lafayette at 5 p.m. and Marshall at 7:30 p.m.