Monett Cubs starting pitcher Cameron Witt came up huge at the plate and on the mound Thursday. The senior left-handed thrower and hitter went the distance on the mound. He also drove in the game-winning RBI at the plate to help the Cubs edge Carl Junction, 4-3, in a matchup of state-ranked teams.
"He (Witt) battled," said Monett head coach Michael Calhoun. "He was up and down early with his command, but he made big pitches when he had to. We controlled him the last couple of innings to get away from the issues as far as coming back.
"At the plate, he obviously had the big hit to give us the lead."
In his seven-inning effort, Witt worked through some wildness at times but held up strong allowing three runs on six hits and recording four strikeouts against three free passes. The Cubs ace induced eight groundouts to five flyouts.
"Overall, I thought I did pretty good," Witt said. "I left some balls up that kind of hurt me, but when I got ahead, I really focused on minimizing the damage because I knew we had a good offense that would be able to come back."
Meanwhile, the early innings featured little offense for both clubs with Witt and Bulldogs ace Ethan Frack dueling it out. However, the Cubs (MHSBCA No. 4, Class 4) struck first as lead-off man Mason Swearingen set the table with a single before giving Monett an early 1-0 lead. Cameron Witt's slow dribbler caused Carl Junction's Tay Mitchell to make an errant throw to third,plating Swearingen.
The following frame,Bulldogs centerfielder Hunter Adams capitalized on a passed ball and eventually was knocked in by Evan Hutchinson via a sacrifice fly. In the top of the fourth, Adams ripped a go-ahead single of a hanging off-speed offering from Witt, which scored Ben Luton, who tripled to start the inning. Then, Hutchinson drilled an RBI double just out of Zach Burgherr's reach in left field to give Carl Junction their first lead, 3-1 after three and a half innings.
That lead lasted no longer than a half inning, though. Monett responded with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the fourth after a two-run RBI single by Ian Meyer. In the bottom of the fifth, Frack retired the first two before Monett stringed out three consecutive 2-out singles capped by Witt's go-ahead RBI single to left-center to regain the lead.
"He's (Frack) a really good pitcher and has a lot of stuff he can throw at you," said Witt. "I had two strikes on me; I was focused on letting the ball travel a little bit. I just put my best swing on it, barreled it up, and it happened to go through a hole."
With the momentum shifted going into the top of the sixth, Carl Junction (MHSBCA No. 8, Class 4) managed to get Luton over at third, but with the count even at 2-2. Witt bent a breaker over the plate for the third out. Witt followed that frame up by tossing an easy seventh for the complete game victory.
"It was an excellent well-played ballgame by both teams," said Calhoun. "Carl Junction is a great team; coached very well. They have a lot of experience. They're going to win a lot of games the rest of the year."
For Carl Junction, Frack pitched six innings of four-run ball. The right-hander to had some erraticness, but gave up just six hits and walked one on the day. Frack punched out three batters.
The Bulldogs skipper Flave Darnell acknowledged Monett took advantage of their mistakes with being the difference in the game.
"They made us pay for mistakes," said Darnell. "They got a run with two outs. They took advantage of opportunities and got big hits in big spots.
As far as improvements as the schedule continues to dwindle towards district play.
"We played a good team. That's the way it goes. Hopefully, we can see them again," said Darnell. "You play a good team; it's a 4-3 ballgame. It's tight, and the lead exchanged a couple of different times. Maybe we left a couple of outs on defense that led to runs.
"That's just high school baseball and they might say the same thing. It was a good game. We're are going to keep doing what we are doing. Hopefully, we'll see them again."
Monett (16-2, 5-0 in Big 8) has the little time to reflect as they host Parkview tomorrow afternoon at 4:30 p.m., while Carl Junction (15-6, 3-1 in Big) will remain on the road as they pay a visit to Neosho on Saturday at 10 a.m.
Monett – 4, Carl Junction – 3
Carl Junction 0 1 0 2 0 0 0
Monett 1 0 0 2 1 X