Willard senior Justin Atchison continued his undefeated varsity career as a starting pitcher after throwing a complete game, allowing four runs with five scoreless innings against Ozark on Thursday.
Willard scored four runs in the second inning and held off a late Ozark comeback to win 9-3.
“Ozark is really, really good offensively so I wanted to not throw anything over the plate and Fraley made me pay for it when I did,” said Atchison, who is 5-0 in 2013 and 13-0 for his career.
Ozark’s starter, Caleb Essick, controlled the Willard offense in the bottom of the same inning, but the silver and black Tigers came alive in the second by scoring four runs with hits from first baseman Luke Latham and Atchison before catcher Nik Taylor earned an RBI hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded.
“I was a little bit nervous coming in the bases loaded with two outs and I knew I had to get something going with us being down a run,” said Taylor. “I was behind in the count 0-2 and [Essick] threw an inside pitch that caught me in the back. It calmed me down a little bit for the rest of the game.”
Taylor ended the contest 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs, a double and a single.
All nine Willard batters made a plate appearance in the second with second baseman Chanse Quinlan scoring the final run on an RBI off a fielder’s choice prior to an infield pop-up from left fielder Michael Pfeifer.
Atchison then cruised for four consecutive scoreless, innings allowing only two hits before Ozark mounted a comeback in the sixth with centerfielder Seth Wheeler driving home Essick and Luke Barnes scoring off a Willard throwing error.
Ozark loaded the bases and had the go-ahead run at the plate, but Atchison got out of the mess with a groundout.
“I was thankful we had Justin on the mound,” said Willard coach Scott McGee “He’s been our closer sometimes in his career and he’s confident enough to pitch out of jams.”
Willard would then score three runs in the top of the seventh off of reliever Garret Romines with Nik Taylor getting his second RBI with a two out double.
Willard’s win over Ozark puts them at 15-5 and 5-1 in the COC, while Ozark moves to 13-8 and an even 3-3 in conference play.
Willard: K. Presley 2-4, C. Quinlan 0-4 RBI, Michael Pfeifer 0-2 BB, L. Latham 1-3 HPB SB, J. Atchison 3-4, Kyle Smith 1-2 Sac Bunt, RBI Sac Fly, N. Taylor 2-3 HPB Sac Fly, Patrick Latham 1-2 BB RBI Sac Bunt, Seth Sherertz 1-3 BB
Ozark: Zeke Barnes 1-3 BB, Sawyer Alderson 0-3 Sac Bunt, C. Fraley 2-4 2B RBI, C. Essick 1-4, Levi Barnes 0-1 2-HPB BB, Trey Faulconer 2-4, S. Wheeler 1-2 HPB,
Willard: J. Atchison 7 IP 8 H 3R 3ER 3HPB BB, 4K
Ozark: C. Essick 6 IP, 6H 6R 6ER 2HPB 2BB 3K, G. Romines 1 IP 4H 3R 3ER BB
1 2 3
Willard 0 4 1 | 0 0 1 | 3
Ozark 1 0 0 | 0 0 2 | 0