By Pat Dailey (For Ozark Sports Zone.com)
OZARK — While seeing Kickapoo put up its first 15 runs versus Ozark Wednesday on only one hit, coach Jason Howser told his Chiefs he hadn’t ever seen a game quite like it.
Upon further review, he realized he actually had.
“This reminded me of the first year my son played kid-pitch in 10U baseball, with one hit and 15 runs later and some errors sprinkled in,” Howser said. “When I saw Kickapoo and Ozark on the schedule, I didn’t envision it would be a game quite like this.”
Indeed, even with one NCAA D-I signee matched up against a D-I commit on the mound, a parade around the bases ensued in Kickapoo’s 18-12 triumph.
Chiefs pitcher Mason Auer, who has verbaled to Missouri State, and Ozark hurler Parker Hanks, who has inked a letter of intent with Northwestern, were overwhelmed by a steady mist that fell the majority of the game.
With MSU coach Keith Guttin in attendance, Auer exited after throwing 85 pitches in two-plus innings. He walked seven. Hanks was relieved after throwing 60 pitches and walking four in two innings.
Hanks struck out the side in the second, but Kickapoo rallied from a 5-0 deficit by plating seven runs on one hit.
The Chiefs added eight runs in the third without a hit.
Ironically, Kickapoo held a 15-8 lead in the fifth inning at the same that Ozark had walked 15 batters and the Chiefs eight.
Kickapoo’s Cole McCarville finished the night 0-for-1, but reached base in all five of his plate appearances and scored four runs. He walked four times and reached on an error.
“I knew the pitchers were kind of out control, but I wasn’t taking a strike,” McCarville said. “I was still going up there looking to hit if I saw my pitch. I was ahead in the count pretty much every time up and wasn’t going to swing at a pitcher’s pitch.”
Chiefs reliever David Senn, who earned the win, enjoyed a stretch over the fourth through sixth innings in which he allowed just one unearned run.
Senn saw Auer and Hanks struggle getting a good grip on the ball, but didn’t enter the game with any inhibitions.
“I could easily sympathize with them,” Senn said. “I realized how hard it is to throw when your hand is wet and when they were throwing, the rain was coming down harder than when I was throwing.
“I’ve thrown in similar conditions, but not this extreme. But I always look forward to pitch, no matter what the circumstances are. As long as I kept my hand dry, I felt like I was in pretty good shape to throw strikes. I would wipe my hand on the back of my pants. For the most part, I was able to throw a dry baseball. We were able to keep a good supply of dry baseballs.”
“Tip your hat to Dave,” Howser said. “He found a way to overcome (the rain), which I’m real proud of him for. He was able to throw strikes when everyone else was struggling with their command.
“You could tell with (Auer and Hanks) that the conditions were tough. It seems like right now we’re in Seattle. But you’re going to have games in which you have to play in conditions like this. It’s not always going to be ideal.”
The final totals included Ozark walking 15 and Kickapoo 11. There were four hit batsmen and the teams combined for nine errors.
The Chiefs (4-3) received a two-run double from Quinn Reasoner and a triple from Garrett Reid.
For Ozark (3-1), Carson Shaver doubled twice.
This game also won’t soon be forgotten for possible Class 5 District 11 seeding implications.
“Looking down the road and as good as Ozark is, it’s good to get a good win against a quality team or even a bad win against a quality team, depending on how you want to look at this game,” Howser said. “We were able to get it done.”
Kickapoo 19, Ozark 12
Ozark 053 001 3 – 12 7 5
Kickapoo 078 021 x – 18 4 4
WP – Senn. LP – Hanks.