This was the first game in a weekend tournament of four teams and six games. Seneca beat East Newton 14-6 in the nightcap's slugfest, and then the remainder of the Monett Invitational got rained out Saturday. Make-up games may be difficult to arrange as the season now marches toward a crescendo in the next few weeks.
For the Class 2 Purdy Eagles, now 8-6 overall and 1-1 in the Ozark 7 Conference, it wasn't an ideal moment to face the Class 3 Cubs, now 6-5 and 2-2 in Big 8 play.
Mustering only six runs in the last two outings against formidable conference opponents, the bats of Monett were set to go off like cannon fire, and they did.
But for the first three innings, Purdy's Daniel Burnside kept Monett in check, allowing a token run in the second inning.
Then in the fourth, Jesse Bremer's grounder into left field began a cascade. Three hits, including Jake Smith's 3-run homer, three batters hit by pitches, passed balls and a balk fueled Monett's seven runs, and the game was a runaway at 8-0.
|That Purdy escaped Monett's 13-batter inning with the bases loaded was of little consolation. In a brief relief appearance, sophomore Cameron Terry threw his first varsity strikes to halt the scoring turnstile.|
Pitcher Andy Hagedorn kept the Eagles hooded with a two-hitter until his offense caught fire, including Marcus Enloe's stroke over the center field fence, capping his trifecta at the plate, going three for three.
"It was good to knock in some runs after we left so many (runners) on base at Cassville and Carl Junction," said Cubs Coach Michael Calhoun.
In a hodgepodge season, Purdy's latest cycle upward was ended. The Eagles began the year dropping three, then went on a four-game winning streak. They lost a pair before generating another quartet of victories, a streak snapped by the loss to Monett.
Confounding stuff for the Purdy faithful, but they have reason to believe.
"This time last year is when we took off," said Purdy Coach Josh Hughes.
The Eagles' baseball program has been helmed by Wheaton alumni Hughes for five years. During his tenure, Purdy has made two appearances in the state quarterfinals.
While his patchwork team navigates the Ozark 7, doling out academic discipline as needed isn't a hesitation.
"I had to suspend eight kids for failing our team academic expectations. You can't play with Ds or Fs -- so they sit," said Hughes.
Conference play resumes Monday when Purdy hosts Wheaton.
Bolstered by renewed scoring production, Monett entertains Big 8 Conference rival Aurora on Tuesday and is on the road Wednesday at Springfield Catholic, a makeup game from a month ago that has implications for district seeding.
"I like how we've come together competing," said Coach Calhoun. "We lost many seniors last year, and the guys have stepped up. Even when we've lost, we've competed."