SPRINGFIELD -- Monett's baseball game Friday night at the majestically renovated Parkview High School was a lesson in patience for Michael Calhoun's varsity team. After graduating six leaders from a successful Cubs' outfit last year, stalwart hitter-pitcher-outfielder Spenser Witt is the lone senior on this season's roster.
Patience was instilled into both clubs before the first pitch. Rainouts led to a scheduling snafu for the officiating crew, resulting in a 45-minute wait before an available umpire was rousted. The gentleman appeared, alone, and ably called the game solo.
The Cubs fell 8-4 to the Parkview Vikings, a Class 5 school, and are now 0-2 on the young season. Parkview reached .500 at 2-2 with the win.
As with the season opener at McDonald County, a single inning was the difference in game two. On the whole, there's reason to believe that time is on the side of Monett baseball. Inning one's run production equaled game one's entire output.
"More reps for more confidence and we'll get there," said Coach Calhoun. "We knew coming in that we'd have to feel our way through it."
Witt distinguished himself early on, putting patience to practice as the game's leadoff hitter, recovering from a one-two pitch count to engage another half-dozen pitches for an eventual walk. He went on to score the first run in this sequence. Junior Colten Phillips followed him on base after being struck by a pitch. They advanced on junior Marcus Enloe's sacrifice fly. Junior Jake Smith hit to the shortstop and beat the throw to first, scoring Witt. Then junior Andy Hagedorn's rip up the middle drove in Phillips.
Hagedorn pitched for the Cubs and struggled from the start. The first three batters he faced went to full ball-and-strike counts. All five Viking batters in the first frame hit the ball, but the Cubs escaped the first inning ahead, 2-0.
Witt made his first exceptional defensive play in the bottom of the first when he motored to right-center field to nab a hard fly.
Despite throwing with a sense of control, Hagedorn couldn't find the strike zone in the second inning and soon threw 11 consecutive balls. With two outs and the bases occupied, Viking senior hitter Koby Gaddis launched one over the left-field fence for a grand slam, putting Parkview ahead for good at 4-2.
"The bases were loaded; I was looking for a fastball, trying to beat the pitcher and get a hit," said Gaddis. "Definitely a good stroke. Solid contact, solid hit."
The game's early thunderclap didn't end there. Another walk and Viking junior Darin Francis powered another homer even further for two more runs. Parkview now led 6-2.
"This was his (Hagedorn's) first varsity start," said Coach Calhoun. "When things go bad for a pitcher, it's hard to turn it around."
Witt came in from the outfield to relieve, and the Cubs played the Vikings even the last five innings at two runs apiece.
Monett threatened in the fourth inning when sophomore Jesse Bremer and junior Doug Aldridge got aboard with a pair of Texas Leaguers. Designated hitter Chris Trout, a junior, put down a sacrifice bunt to advance the boys to second and third base. Witt then smashed a double to left-center, scoring both and narrowing Parkview's lead to 6-4.
Double-base hits by Parkview in the fourth and sixth innings drove in the last two Viking runs.
Cub fielding was solid throughout. Phillips' play at shortstop thwarted a promising fifth inning for the Vikings. He controlled a frisky hit up the middle, forced an out at second base and then drilled to first for a double play. More Derek Jeter in the sixth, when he scrambled right to snatch a deep grounder for another out to first.
"It's what I'm good at - it's what I like," said Phillips. "I want the ball."
Hagedorn re-emerged in the outfield with impressive play of his own, fighting the wind and sun to catch a soaring foul ball in the fourth. He played hard to the end, hitting on base in the seventh for a rally that never materialized.
Monett's home game today against Springfield Catholic High has been postponed.
Monett hits: Hagedorn (2), Smith (2), Witt (single and double), Bremer, McCaffrey.