By Jacob Govero
Branson, Mo. — Trailing by four runs in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded, Branson had the tying run standing at the plate. Monett reliever Cameron Johnson stared in at Pirate first baseman Bryce Burtless and delivered. The sound of his bat cracked as he sent a deep fly ball out toward the fence in left field. The ball fell a few feet short, landing in the glove of Monett left fielder Corey Spain and ending a wild game Friday in Branson.
Monett picked up a solid road win, defeating the Pirates 13-9 in a game that went over two hours and saw a bit of everything. The two teams combined for 27 hits and 10 errors and provided plenty of drama in the first meeting between these two schools in several years.
“It was just one of those games,” Branson head coach Troy Nimmo said. “The good thing about it we’re down eight and we made a game of it. The kids could have laid down but they stuck with it and we let them know we’re here and staying with it, and then we almost came up with a grand slam to tie it.”
Branson jumped out in front 3-0 in the bottom of the first. A line drive by Burtless to left field snuck between the legs of Monett’s fielder and the first run of the game came via an error. The Pirates would tack on another off an errant throw to first, going up 2-0. Junior DH Logan Porter laced one off the glove on Monett’s second baseman and Branson scored the final run of the inning as Zach Johnston came around to score.
Monett coach Michael Calhoun said sometimes you have these games and you have to find a way to win.
“We battled, we’ve been really good all year about making very little mistakes defensively but today we had five errors,” he said. “I told the kids afterwards, we have one game in 14 that is like this in high school, and we’ll take it. You’re not happy about it but you can accept it.”
It wouldn’t take long for Monett to claim the lead as they would plate four runs in the top of the second. Their first two runs would come off an error by Branson, one of five they would also commit. With men on first and second, Cubs shortstop Brady Wright laid down a bunt that was fielded off the mound by Branson starter Tyler Darst.
However his throw to third was high allowing two runs to score for Monett. A sacrifice fly to left by by Mason Swearingen would tie the score at 3-3. That was one of four RBIs on the day for the Monett center fielder. Catcher Zach Burgherr would follow with a run-scoring single giving Monett a 4-3 lead ending the second.
“We have not been stringing together hitting the ball very hard as consistently as we’d like to but today we hit the ball hard. We had both a lot of hits and had a lot of solidly hit outs. So I was pleased to see that,” said Calhoun.
Branson would tie the game for the last time in the bottom of the third. An error by Monett third baseman Dereck Morrison would allow Burtless to score tying the game 4-4.
The Cubs would retake the lead for good in the top of the fourth. With men on second and third, Burgherr would hammer a shot to center field bringing in Karter Brink and Swearingen. That made the score 6-4 providing a lead Monett would not relinquish.
Heading into the bottom of the seventh Monett had built a 13-5 lead and reliever Zach Johnston headed to the mount looking to shut the door. Branson, playing their seventh game in seven days, was not quite ready to go home yet. They would load the bases and with one out right fielder Justus Brashears lined a shot off the first base bag scoring three runs making it 13-8. Third baseman Skyler Harris would drive another run in off a single to center making it 13-9.
Branson would reload the bases and with two outs came the final drama with the ball landing in Spain’s glove. “They made it interesting there at the end, he hit it as deep as he could without hitting it out, but Corey made a great play,” said Monett starting pitcher Ian Meyer. Meyer got the victory for the Cubs going 5.1 innings with five strikeouts before getting pulled on a pitch count.
Monett improved to 12-2 for the season. Their next game is Monday versus Mt. Vernon.
Branson fell to 8-7 overall and will take the weekend off before facing off against Neosho on Monday.