By Shelley Ebbrecht
Willard, Mo. — Caleb Lasher threw the game of his life in a complete seven-inning perfect game for the Willard Tigers in their win over Lebanon on Friday night. It was the first perfect game for the senior who said his career has been building to this moment.
“I was feeling great,” Lasher said. “I was able to come out and attack guys and get ahead and that led to my success I think. I didn’t have a pitch that wasn’t working for me tonight, but I’d say my curveball was probably my best pitch. I had seven strikeouts on my curve.”
Cue the Salvy Splash.
Lasher struck out the side in the sixth to add to his 11-strikeout total. Throwing 55 strikes and only 11 balls, Lasher never reached a three-ball count the entire game.
It was Willard’s first perfect game under 10-year head coach Scott McGee who said it was an awesome win for a tremendous kid.
“I don’t know that you could ever expect this sort of a performance, but we know he’s always good,” McGee said. “Caleb has progressed so much over the last year, really, so we’re really excited about what he’s done. He comes out and just dominates and does his job, and he did a great job today.”
The contest started out a pitchers’ duel through the first two and a half innings. Lebanon’s Cole McBride matched Lasher, denying a hit in the first two innings for the Yellowjackets before Willard’s offense came alive in back-to-back innings.
Garrett Rice broke it open for the Tigers with a single in the bottom of the third. Connor Poulson hit a 2-RBI double to the wall to give Willard a 3-0 lead after three.
Late in the fourth inning, it was Austin Russell with a 2-RBI triple to put the Tigers up by 6. Lebanon could not crack the Willard defense and the Tigers claimed the 6-0 victory on their home field.
Brady Owen hit 2-3 for the Tigers with 2 runs and a stolen base. Ben Morris had 4 stolen bases. Willard improves to 5-2 on the season and will play a double header in Grove, OK Saturday to complete four games in 48 hours.
Lebanon is coming off a Florida road trip in which the team played against teams from across the nation at the Wide World of Sports field and spent time bonding as a team. Lebanon coach Dennis Young said his team was ready to play, but met a good Willard team tonight.
“There in the bottom of the third, Willard did a good job of having good at-bats and getting baserunners on,” said Young. “We had a ball that’s hit to left field and our left fielder makes a diving effort and misses, and they were able to capitalize on that. Once that momentum started for them, it’s hard to slow it down.”
Yellowjacket starting pitcher McBride gave up 6 runs on 6 hits with 5 strikeouts and 2 walks in 4 1/3 innings. Blake Paul came in as relief, throwing 3 strikeouts in 1 2/3 innings.
Lebanon falls to 3-2 on the season and will return to the field against Nixa on Monday in the first of the team’s four-game week facing three conference opponents.
Willard 6, Lebanon 0