Pierce City baseball has storm start to season

Thursday, March 25, 2010

CASSVILLE -- The weather played havoc with the Cassville baseball tournament, akin to what the Eagles of Pierce City had to face in their round-robin double-header on Wednesday night.

Game one opponent was the Cassville Wildcats. After a quiet first inning, the shelling of Pierce City pitching began, resulting in multiple Wildcat runs each frame until the game was called after five with the score 17-0.
Ace Cassville pitcher Travis Northern overpowered the Class 3A school, which was unable to gain a hit.

Pierce City designated pitcher Jared Barchak for the nightcap versus Southwest, so Mitchell Gibson was given the task of facing the 4A Wildcat bats. By the third inning, Cassville converted home plate into an ATM machine, cashing in at will.

Once Tim Walters relieved Mitchell Gibson on the mound in the fourth, Pierce City was struggling on all fronts. Both Eagle pitchers had decent starts, but Walters' brave effort was swamped by a rash of fielding errors, resulting in a six-run inning.

Seventeen hits by Cassville and five errors by Pierce City sum it up.

For coach Kyle Wood of Cassville, the game made him believe he'd underestimated the hitting ability on his promising team.

"Pleasant surprise," said Wood.

In his first year directing Cassville baseball, Wood has risen through the ranks of the Wildcat program mentoring senior talent Travis Northern. Coming off an impressive junior year and sporting several devastating pitches, Northern also contributed a key hit after his shot over the outfield fence veered slightly left and foul.

Wildcat sophomore Trey Rose did manage a homer in the third, driving in three runs and the rout was on, 7-0.

By the time the infield at Cassville had been prepared for the second contest, the overcast sky may have reflected the dreary debut for Pierce City, but it actually brought out the fight in the Eagles. Inning one against Southwest (3A) was instantly better, with Eagle hitters gaining solid contact with the ball for the first time in two games.

Jared Barchak threw his best inning in the second, displaying poise by getting out of base runner trouble with a strikeout.

The third frame produced the first run of the day by Pierce City. A scrappy sequence began with hitter Gavin Bremer beating out the fielder's throw to get on first base. Then Mitchell Gibson's rip allowed Bremer to wheel around the horn for the Eagles' only lead of the day, 1-0, aided by an errant throw home.

But before the inning was out, Southwest had gained control with a combination of hits and wild pitches that swung the door open at 4-1.

Rain became a fixture in the fourth inning and hastened the game's termination.

By the fifth and final inning, the pitchers' mound had to be shored up with a rake-break. Players and parents were undaunted by the steady downpour, but the game was finally called and Southwest had collected a 7-2 win.

Once the tournament skirts around the moisture, Pierce City will play at Exeter on March 29.

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