Friday, April 14, 2017

Logan Keho Plunked as Mustang Baseball Keeps NEN Winless

Northeast Nodaway has won or shared the last three conference titles, but they were in an unfamiliar position after falling 7-6 to North Nodaway Tuesday -- at 0-3 and still searching for their first win in the newly-formed Highway 275 Baseball Conference. They fell into a 6-1 hole against the Mustangs, now guided by Jake Shipman. They came all the way back to tie it, showing the form that had brought them their last three titles. But then, Andrew Freemyer plunked Logan Keho right in the helmet with the bases loaded and two out and North Nodaway walked off with the victory.

Everything looked so good at first for Northeast through the first 2 1/2 innings. Rowdy West took the mound for Northeast and pitched like a seasoned pro; he got out of a first inning jam when a dropped third strike that catcher Andrew Freemyer threw away put Dakota Smyser on third with nobody out. But, facing the heart of the order, he struck out Dalton Smyser, Peyton Coleman, and Tyler Bix to get out of the inning with no damage done.

Mustang pitcher Peyton Coleman was just as effective through two, but with two outs in the third, he started fighting the strike zone and walked Andrew Freemyer and Chet Spire. That brought up West, who singled between third baseman Logan Keho and shortstop Arron Coleman to bring home Freemyer and put Northeast up 1-0.

But that lead disappeared in a hurry after pitcher Rowdy West walked Garrett Torres to start the bottom of the third. Austin Bird ran for him, and West threw away Makayla Cross' bunt attempt, putting runners on first and third. A dropped throw scored Bird, and then Dakota Smyser brought up the top of the order and walked. They took second and third on a wild pitch with nobody out. Northeast nearly got out of the inning as second baseman Chance Barber caught a screamer from Dalton Smyser and West struck out Peyton Coleman. But North Nodaway was just getting started.

Tyler Bix walked and Northeast dropped a fly ball, allowing two runs to score and putting runners on first and third. Arron Coleman stole second and Logan Keho's bad hop single brought in Coleman and Bix to make it 5-1. Makayla Cross singled and Dakota Smyser tripled to the gap in right center to bring her in to make it 6-1 in the fourth.

Trailing 6-1 against the likes of Peyton Coleman seemed like a thankless task, but Northeast began its comeback in the fifth when Spencer Gray shot a screamer between right and center; Dakota Smyser made a great play to stop the ball and hold him to a single, but Andrew Freemyer singled down the left field line and Chet Spire whisted a single past MaKayla Cross at second to score Gray. Rowdy West drew an intentional walk, and then Ethan Adwell flied out to score Freemyer to make it 6-3.

With Northeast down to its final three outs, Andrew Freemyer attempted a desperation head first slide on a squib hit that died right behind Peyton Coleman, but to no avail. But Chet Spire walked and Coleman ran out of pitches, bringing in Dakota Smyser to the mound. Peyton Coleman moved to center. Dylan Mildfeldt, running for Chet Spire, stole second and Rowdy West greeted Smyser with a ground rule double under the bleachers in left center to score Mildfeldt. A wild pitch sent West to third, and Ethan Adwell and Dakota Smyser battled until Adwell got a walk on a 3-2 county. That brought up Brayden Welch, who doubled down the third base line to score two and tie it up. Reed McIntyre battled Smyser to a 3-2 count and walked on a low pitch. Maverick Price grounded out, but Chance Barber walked to load the bases for Spencer Gray. Gray hit a screamer, but it was right at Peyton Coleman and North Nodaway got out of the inning with the score still tied at 6-6.

Dakota Smyser tried unsuccessfully to dig out a low pitch and grounded out to Reed McIntyre at first, but Dalton Smyser hit what looked like a routine grounder that caromed off the mound and into center for a base hit. Peyton Coleman whistled a single down the left field pine, they advanced to second and third, and Tyler Bix walked to load the bases with one out. NEN coach Vance Proffitt turned to Andrew Freemyer, and there was a heartstopping moment as he nearly plunked Arron Coleman on his first pitch, as North Nodaway coach Jake Shipman lobbied unsuccessfully for a hit batter, which would have ended it right there. Arron Coleman didn't mean to do it, but he went around on a 3-2 pitch that was out of the strike zone, and that was the second out of the inning and NEN was seemingly out of the woods. But then Freemyer plunked Logan Keho, and Dalton Smyser trotted home with the winning run.

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