By Dana Harding (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
Springfield, MO — Thomas Brand couldn’t have scripted Glendale’s wild, extra-innings finish much better.
After struggling through the early part of the season, the junior right fielder ripped a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the 8th inning to give the Falcons a 2-1 victory over state-ranked Ozark.
Brand’s line drive down the third-base line off Ozark reliever Blake Mozley scored Max Elmer from second base.
“I was just looking for the first pitch, because [Mozley] had been throwing strikes all game,” Brand said. “I wasn’t really aggressive early in the season, but now I’m just going with a more aggressive mentality, and it’s been getting me going along on the hitting track.”
Elmer, the Falcons’ second baseman, reached on a leadoff walk to open the inning. Facing a 1-2 count, Elmer appeared to ground out to the pitcher; however, the infield umpire intervened and the play was ruled foul.
A bunt from starting pitcher Ethan Paschke then moved Elmer to second, setting the stage for Brand’s heroics.
Glendale head coach Jim Julian praised the outfielder’s patience and perseverance at the plate.
“We got a huge at-bat from Thomas Brand,” Julian said. “He’s been struggling early in the year, but the last couple of games he’s kind of come out of it. We know he’s a good hitter, so we’ve kind of stuck with him.”
Each team managed to plate a single run during the first three innings, as Paschke and Ozark starter Parker Hanks settled into a classic pitchers’ duel.
Just minutes after first pitch, Paschke gave up the game’s first run when Ozark’s Carson Shaver drove in Mozley on a single up the middle. From there, the senior right-hander found his stride, allowing only a pair of hits in seven innings of work. Paschke finished the game with six strikeouts and two walks.
Glendale answered in the bottom of the third when shortstop Ty Wilmsmeyer scored from third on a passed ball from Hanks.
A D-1 commit to Northwestern, Hanks finished with three strikeouts, four hits and four walks in six innings of work. The senior left-hander struggled with control at times but was able to repeatedly pitch himself out of trouble.
“We put together some pretty good at-bats the entire game,” Julian said. “Parker [Hanks] did a great job keeping us off-balance and pitching around traffic when we had runners on. We just told the guys, ‘Do anything we can to get on base.’ It kind of worked out in our favor, and we got some production from the middle to bottom of the order.”
While Ozark’s scoring opportunities were few and far between, the Tigers found themselves in prime position at the top of the eighth. With runners at first and second and nobody out, Ozark seemed poised to take the lead; however, Glendale responded with back-to-back defensive gems.
Falcon junior Jack Hamlin tracked down a line drive at the wall and fired a rocket into second base for the double-play, then Elmer dove up the line on the next batter to convert a difficult, inning-ending force-out.
After the game, Ozark head coach Mike Essick talked about the Tigers’ need for better plate discipline in order to generate more quality at-bats.
“Who are you going to beat getting two hits? That’s the bottom line,” Essick said. “You’re not always going to get a hit, but I think you can hit more balls hard, and that’s what it boiled down to. Hopefully, we learn from it, get better and move on.”
Both teams are back in action this weekend. Glendale (8-4) visits West Plains on Saturday, April 7, while Ozark (4-3) travels north for the Sedalia Tournament. The Tigers open play Friday, April 6 against Oak Grove.
Glendale – 2, Ozark – 1 (8 Innings)
Ozark 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 1
Glendale 0 0 1 6 0 0 0 1 — 2
Hits: Ozark – 2, Glendale – 6
Errors: Ozark – 1, Glendale – 2
LOB: Ozark – 6, Glendale – 9
Parker Hanks (6.00 IP, 3K, 4H, 4BB)
Blake Mozley (1.67 IP, 2K, 2H, 2BB)
Ethan Paschke (7.00 IP, 6K, 2H, 2BB, 1HBP)
Ty Wilmsmeyer (1.00 IP, 0K, 0H, 1BB)
Time of game: 1:50