An eight-run, one-hit inning lifted Smith-Cotton to a 9-7 win over Lafayette in the first of two games at the West Central Missouri Baseball Tournament on Friday on Dey Field at Liberty Park. Smith-Cotton beat Marshall in the nightcap 11-4.
In the first game, Lafayette starting pitcher Tyler McMurray was perfect through three innings before walking Chance McMullen to lead off the fourth. That walked turned into a rally as Smith-Cotton scored eight runs in the inning off one hit, drawing eight walks.
McMullen, Steven Bradbury and Cody Kozak all drew walks, and all scored on wild pitches to make it 7-3. Walks and a hit-batsman loaded the bases before Dakota Brown unloaded them with a double down the left-field line. Dom Zerilli, A.J. Paul and Dalton Zaremba all scored on the play to cut the lead to 7-6. Brown came charging home on a grounder to third and beat the throw to tie the game.
Lafayette made a pitching change, and reliever Royce Patty struggled to find the plate as well, walking McMullen and Bradbury and throwing a pair of wild pitches to score the go-ahead run.
“We weren’t too overly aggressive,” said Smith-Cotton coach Jud Kindle. “We knew he was throwing a lot of balls, but we weren’t swinging at a lot of balls. Our hitters did a good job of laying off what we needed to lay off.”
Smith-Cotton added another in the fifth when Zerilli scored from third on a grounder.
Smith-Cotton starting pitcher Roberto Ramirez lasted 2 1-3 innings, allowing six runs on five hits before giving way to Jayce Simoncic.
The Lancers scored three in the first. Zachary Ruckman led off the game with a double and scored when a throw to catch Cole Dupont trying to steal went into center field. A sacrifice fly later scored Dupont, and Jacob Bolstad doubled to the fence in left to score Peter Williams.
They added to the lead with four runs in the third. Williams scored from third on a ground out and when Bolstad tried to move up on the play, the throw to third was wide allowing him to score. A ground ball brought home another run. After Simoncic came on in relief, Grey Wilson doubled and came home when Ruckman dribbled a ball down the third base line that the Tigers couldn’t make a play on.
But Simoncic settled down in the fourth, issuing a one-out walk but picking off the runner. Two-out singles in the fifth and sixth led to no runs.
“He kept it down in the zone,” Kindle said. “He mixed up his speeds. If you keep the ball down in the zone and mix up your speeds and throw strikes, you’ll usually be in good shape.”
Austin Bullerd came on in the seventh and pitched a one-two-three inning, striking out two, for the save.
Starting the second game for Smith-Cotton, Zaremba hit the Owls’ leadoff hitter in the first before striking out the next three batters he faced. He issued a two-out walk in the second, but Nick Hagedorn threw out the runner trying to steal to end the inning.
Marshall’s first hit of the game came when Owls pitcher Canaan Heinzler sneaked a single past Smith-Cotton shortstop Luke Archibeque with two outs in the third. Another single and a walk loaded the bases but Zaremba induced a fly ball to get out of the jam.
Zaremba worked five innings, striking out nine and walking two.
“His curveball was really working,” Kindle said. “He had a lot of run on his fastball. Defense played well behind him. We did about everything right in the second game.”
Smith-Cotton got on the board in the first inning in game two. After McMullen led off with a walk, Hagedorn blooped a single into right. With runners on the corners, the Tigers executed a double steal to bring home McMullen.
The Tigers struck again in the third as Zerilli hit a sharp single up the middle to score McMullen. Moments later, Gavin Jones scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-0.
Smith-Cotton made it 6-0 in the fourth. Bradbury singled home Baxter Mays. Another single and a walk loaded the bases, and Kozak ripped a single to left to score Bradbury and Jones.
Mays brought home Brown with an RBI single in the fifth to make it 7-0, his second RBI of the game.
“Baxter’s a pretty savvy little ball player,” Kindle said. “He’s a freshman but he doesn’t play like a freshman. He’s got a lot of savvy and plays pretty good defense, takes a good approach at the plate hitting.”
The Tigers added two more with a Hagedorn double to center.
Marshall got on the board with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth before Smith-Cotton answered with two in the sixth. Marshall scored two more in the sixth.