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By: Corey Stott
UNIONVILLE, Mo.- 5/17 & 5/19/21- The radar lied. I don’t know who or what determines what the radar screen shows, but it lied on this day. The official National Weather Service radar imaging system showed that the skies over Unionville, Missouri on Monday, May 17th were clear of rain, but my rain-soaked coat and dripping wet camera equipment begged to differ.
The #2 seeded Scotland County Tigers (9-10) baseball team was scheduled to play a 7 pm game versus #3 seed Marceline. When this reporter arrived on scene, the game preceding that was underway in the middle innings. Home team Putnam County was well on its way to a 9-3 win over the Milan Wildcats. But that wasn’t exactly unexpected.
What was unexpected was the condition of the field. Don’t get me wrong. Coach Blane Robinson and his assistants at Putnam County made a Herculean effort to get the field playable. But ball fields are kind of like sponges. They’re designed to take and handle a certain amount of water, but at some point the sponge is just simply full and it can’t soak up any more.
The Putnam County sponge was full and the field was rapidly deteriorating. Outfielders left rooster tails in their wake as they tried to run down fly balls that died in the wind and rain. Balls buried themselves in the outfield mud upon landing. It was, well, less than ideal.
When the Putnam/ Milan game concluded, the field crew spent around 45 minutes attempting to pack more clay and field conditioner into the batter’s box and onto the pitcher’s mound in the landing zone. I want to be clear here: I am in no way faulting the Putnam County field crew. They did everything they could possibly do to make the field playable. It’s just that sometimes, it just isn’t possible.
When the game began, it was a heavy mist, light drizzle, choose whatever adjective you like. My adjectives are wet and muddy. It was both of those things to a fair extreme. The crazy part is, the radar continued to lie the whole time.
Owen Triplett was on the mound to start the game for Scotland County. The Tigers were the home team, so Marceline came to the plate first. Calvin Cathey and Wyatt Molloy both reached base and later scored when Hunter Quinn hit a single to deep right field. Marceline led 2-0 after half an inning.
In the bottom of the third, Brady Curry drew a walk while Ian Wilson and Carson Harrison each had a single. Xavier Lucas walked to push a run across the plate. Triplett was the next batter and also drew a bases loaded walk to score a second run, and Marceline starter Wyatt Molloy and allowed Scotland County to draw even at two apiece.
Marceline had an answer in the next frame, and Brenden Catron drew a walk to lead-off the fourth. Tanner Sayre bunted Catron over to third and then he scored on a fielder’s choice. Sayre then scored from third on a throwing error from catcher Lucas when he tried to pick him off at third. Marceline had regained the upper hand 4-2.
The Marceline offense continued to chip away, even as the field conditions worsened. Lucas came in to work the fifth inning in relief of Triplett. A single, fielder’s choice and a walk set up a scoring play when a Quinn pop-fly was misplayed in left field by Peyton Frederick. Cathey crossed the plate and Marceline led 5-2 in the middle of the fifth.
The bottom of the fifth was a huge inning for Scotland County. Wilson singled and Kaden Anders walked to get things started. After a Harrison fly-out, Lucas belted a 2-RBI triple to deep center scoring Wilson and Anders. The Tigers were within one run of Marceline, trailing 5-4. Corbyn Spurgeon then reached on an error on a pop-up to second baseman Sayre. Lucas scored on the play and we were tied at 5-5.
In the fourth inning, Preston Sanchez launched a ball that everyone thought was a goner. But at its apex, the wind and rain just killed it and it was a medium depth fly-out. He got his revenge in the bottom of the fifth. The young man got all of a fast ball and it immediately exited the park over the center field fence at a high rate of speed with plenty of distance. His two-run shot gave the Tigers their first lead of the game, 7-5.
Lucas returned to the mound to start the top of the sixth. There was a delay as an intense discussion ensued about whether-or-not to suspend the game, given the nearly unplayable conditions. But the decision was made to press on. Lucas struggled to grip the ball and land the front foot on a mound that was more of a slip-and-slide than a pitcher’s mound. He walked Drake Stufflebean on a series of pitches that made it clear that pitching was nearly impossible in the conditions.
After Cathey was retired for the first out, Schmitt hit a grounder to 1st baseman Harrison’s right. Harrison got to the ball and made the stop, but the muddy field caused him to struggle to regain his feet and get to the bag. Schmitt reached safely. Nathan Cupp then hit a grounder (or mudder seems more appropriate) to Curry, which gave the second baseman trouble. Stufflebean scored on the throw and it was 7-6 Scotland County.
Molloy then hit a fly ball to extreme right field that gave Kade Richmond a tough time, again with the field conditions contributing heavily. Schmitt scored on the throw home and it was tied at 7-7 with one out. At this point, a lengthy and intense discussion broke out between officials, coaches and administrators, and a decision was made to suspend the game due to the field being unplayable.
With wet weather in the forecast all week long, everybody involved was under the gun to find an answer to how to get the games in. Late Wednesday morning, a glimmer of hope emerged and a plan was put in place to resume the game that afternoon at 4 pm in Unionville, with the district championship game to immediately follow.
Carson Harrison would resume the game for the Tigers on the mound with runners at second and third and only one out. Quinn drilled the second pitch to center field for an RBI single that scored Cupp. Marceline led 8-7. Harrison proceeded to strike out the next five hitters he faced in a row, but Scotland was unable to put anything together offensively, and Marceline won the district semi-final and advanced to the championship and ended the Tigers’ season.
Triplett faced 19 batters in four innings of work. He struck out seven, walked four and allowed four hits. He gave up four runs, all earned. Lucas faced 11 batters in one inning of work, walking two and allowing four hits. He gave up four runs, three of which were earned. He was on the hook for the run that scored to give Marceline the lead and took the loss. Harrison was impressive in his 1 2/3 innings of work. He faced only six hitters and struck out the last five.
Molloy started for Marceline. He faced 25 in 4 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking six. He gave up six hits and six runs, four of which were earned. Quinn picked up the win working the final 2 1/3 facing nine hitters. He struck out three and allowed two hits and one earned run.
Lucas was one of two with three RBIs. Sanchez was two of three with two RBIs, and Triplett was one of two with an RBI. Putnam County went on to later defeat Marceline 10-0 to win the Class 2, District 11 title.