Sunday, April 3, 2016

Mustangs Down NEN for First Baseball Win in Bitter Cold

The weather was bitterly cold, at around 43 degrees at gametime, and it dropped a degree or two Thursday as North Nodaway won its first game of the year while last year's Northwest Missouri Baseball Conference Champs crashed and burned. Vance Proffitt's squad had every reason to expect a win; the Mustangs had fallen hard against Maryville JV to start out in a game arranged at the last minute and then 5-3 to East Atchison. In that game, they dug themselves into a big hole early, and then Koby Reynolds nearly singlehandedly kept them in the game by striking out 17. But they had yet to put things together. But then all hell broke loose in Ravenwood as North Nodaway put together their most complete game in two years and downed Northeast 14-5 Friday.

Coach Andrew Webster said it meant a lot to get a win earlier in the year for his Mustangs; last year, his squad had not picked up a win until late in the season. "Now, we can push them harder in practice, because they know what we tell them works," he said. He said they were trying to do the right thing; it was a matter of understanding the processes involved.

With Max Giesken at the helm for Northeast, it looked like there would be no problems for Northeast as he shut down the Mustangs down early. But then a precursor to what would happen occurred in the bottom of the inning when Mustang pitcher Peyton Coleman froze Giesken, Northeast's most dependable hitter, looking. Later in the inning, Rowdy West hit a monster shot almost as long as Spencer Weir's against North Harrison the night before, only to have it hook foul; the kid who ran and got it stood in shock for a few minutes thinking it had landed fair. Proffitt thought the same thing and had a conversation with the plate umpire, but was unable to change his mind.

It looked like Northeast would be able to take a good pitching duel; they would go on to score as Andrew Freemyer grounded out to score Spencer Weir to make it 1-0. But another bad omen happened as North Nodaway's batters at the bottom of the order started getting some good swings off Giesken; Wyatt Tate, the #9 hitter, took a line drive the other way with two strikes on him for a single and later scored when Dakota Smyser flied out in the top of the third to tie it 1-1.

It still looked like it would be OK for Northeast as Max Giesken took Peyton Coleman's first pitch down the left field line as it sliced away from Arron Coleman at third for a single. Giesken stole second and advanced again when Spencer Weir, with two strikes on him, got a slow roller in play that advanced him to third. Rowdy West flied out to score him and Northeast was up 2-1.

Northeast thought they had nothing to worry about as the bottom of the order was coming up, but then Ben Hart singled off the wall in right, and Taylor Coffelt made a good hustle play to get it back in and hold him to one base. Arron Coleman then beat out Chet Spire's throw after a slow roller for an infield hit and Ben Hart tried for third on the play. Northeast first baseball Korey Adwell threw the ball away as Coleman took second and Hart scored to tie it at 2.

Although Giesken threw away a pickoff throw, allowing Coleman to advance to third, it looked like Northeast would get out of the inning with no further damage done as Kendrick Calfee and August Hoepker struck out. But then all hell broke loose as Wyatt Tate whistled a single just over Jill Spire at second to score Coleman. Peyton Coleman then hit a towering popup, but Korey Adwell dropped it and another run scored. With runners on second and third, Dakota Smyser hit a grounder to Spencer Weir at short; he made a great play to his left to stop it, but Smyser beat out the throw and Peyton Coleman scored all the way from second as two runs came home to make it 6-2. Protecting against runners taking extra bases seems to be an area in need of improvement for Northeast.

It still looked to be no problem for Northeast; they had faced a 5-2 deficit against North Harrison the day before and had survived. But after they were shut down in the fourth and fifth, all hell broke loose in the top of the sixth as the first six North Nodaway batters got hits and five more runs came across to make it 11-2. North Nodaway continued to score, putting three more runs across as Northeast made three errors in the inning to make it 14-2. Northeast finally scored three in the seventh as Peyton Coleman started tiring in the bottom of the seventh, but it wasn't enough. As a team, Northeast made ten errors, something they will have to fix before their next game with South Nodaway.

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