By Tyler Thompson (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
SPRINGFIELD — There wasn’t any shortage of storylines heading into Tuesday’s Class 5 District 10 matchup between the Glendale Falcons (5-3) and the visiting undefeated Nixa Eagles (5-1).
After all, the diamond was chock-full of collegiate signees and commits — such as Glendale starting pitcher Ty Wilmsmeyer (Mizzou signee), Nixa sophomore starting pitcher Isaac Mitchell (committed to Arkansas), and Nixa’s Hunter Crabtree (Missouri Southern State University).
But, in the end, Wilmsmeyer shut down the Eagles offense, and the Falcons walked it off as senior Thomas Brand’s RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning secured the 1-0 win for Glendale — which improved to 5-3 on the young season.
Brand struggled his first few at-bats, a credit to Mitchell’s ability to keep the Falcons’ bats at bay.
“Being a left-handed batter, it is really hard going against a left-handed pitcher. I struggle with that sometimes with the curveballs,” said Brand.
With the game scoreless in the eighth inning, Brand dug in his cleats and put his 0-3 performance behind him.
After all, those three at-bats came against Mitchell.
This time, all Mitchell could do was watch, as Nixa head coach Jason Daughtery went to senior Jake Uber.
With two on and two out and the winning run within striking distance, Brand wiped his recent memory bank clean in an effort to maximize one more plate appearance and get the best of Uber.
“I put those (at-bats) away” said Brand. “I wanted to focus on doing what’s right for my team. “I had an opportunity in my third at-bat to make a big play, (to) score a run. So this was where I could get it in, get that run. When they went to the righty, we knew it was our opportunity.”
Through the first five innings, the game was anything but typical, as the teams combined for three errors and as many hits.
“I think it says a lot about our club,” Glendale head coach Jim Julian said. “This group is senior-laden. They are a gritty bunch. They work hard. We try and tell them it’s a long game, don’t let the first inning or first at-bats affect the game.”
Brand never would have had the opportunity to send off his team in such fine fashion without the eighth-inning play of his counterparts.
After the first two batters went in order, Wilmsmeyer and Max Elmer both singled, with Wilmsmeyer going first to third on Elmer’s hit.
“It gives us a lot of confidence,” Brand said of the district win. “The whole time, it was a tough game. A really good pitching battle. I just think we need to keep battling throughout the game and we’ll eventually score runs and play good defense.”
Wilmsmeyer struck out 15 — with three coming back-to-back-to-back during seventh-inning action.
“It was a great game. Each team is very strong — a very good district opponent” said Wilmsmeyer. “They have good arms over there in Mitchell and Uber. The lineup is strong.
Wilmsmeyer did what any ace is asked to do — mix speeds and get ahead in the count — both of which yielded the 15-strikeout performance en route to the win.
“Overall, it was a very good game. We played solid defensively,” said Wilmsmeyer. “We were able to have some clutch hits when it mattered.”
While Wilmsmeyer was wheeling and dealing, his defense was flashing the leather — which allowed for the senior ace to relax a bit more and focus on his arsenal — which was complete with knee-buckling curveballs and changeups throughout the tilt.
Added Wilmsmeyer: “It makes it a lot easier when I am on the mound, if my pitches are working and I am able to locate. It is good to mix up speeds and be able to put up some zeros up on the scoreboard.
Wilmsmeyer allowed two hits while fanning 15 and walking none.
For Nixa, the Eagles will look to eliminate the errors and produce timely hitting as they move forward.
Said Daughtery: “We didn’t hit the ball very well. We struck out too many times. Wilmsmeyer was in the zone with all of his stuff. We battled. We couldn’t get anything going.”
The Falcons outhit the Eagles 5-2.
Mitchell allowed two hits in his seven innings of work.