The Hillcrest Hornets’ struggles have had head coach Ryan Schaffitzel trying any combination to win.
“This is our eighth lineup in eight games and we’ve started about 15 different kids,” said Schaffitzel.
The weather cooperated just enough to allow the Hornets(1-7, 1-3) to host the Waynesville Tigers Tuesday evening at Dick Birmingham Field where they found the right mix and earned their first win of the season in a 7-5 Ozark Conference victory.
With the temperature in the low 40s, the Hornets’ bats got warm enough to produce seven hits. One of those hits was a scorching two-homerun over the left centerfield wall in the bottom of the second inning by senior Weston Buchanan, giving them a 2-1 lead. He finished 1-for-3 with 3 RBI.
Hillcrest southpaw Tyler Ray was able to keep the Tigers offense off balance through the first four innings. He allowed only 4 hits and one run through the first four innings.
The Tigers (0-7, 0-1) were able to tie the score in the top of the fifth inning by connecting on three consecutive singles, the last producing and RBI for Ethan Howser.
The Hornets took back the lead in the home half of the fifth, starting with a single and stolen base by senior Deson Davis. Davis was able to score on a groundout later in the inning.
Waynesville was able to tie the game again in the next inning when Dylan Newcomb, who hit a single to get on base, was able to steal home and tie the game at 3-3.
“It was close ball game,” said Waynesville Head Coach Scott Turner. “It always seems like we have trouble when we have to go to a relief pitcher, it doesn’t matter who we put out there. We have trouble transitioning.”
And that’s when it started.
Waynesville starter Zach York gave way to Howser in the bottom of the 6th inning. Hillcrest sent 10 players to the plate and scored four runs to make the lead 7-3.
Hillcrest almost let the lead slip away in the top of the seventh. The Hornets committed two errors and the Tigers plated two runs to make the score 7-5. Ray was able to get a strikeout to end the threat.
Ray was able to get the win by effectively mixing his pitches.
“I worked a lot with the off-speed, curveballs low and away and get some guys to chase it,” said Ray. “It seemed to be working good.”
Ray pitched a complete game earning the win and scattered seven hits.
“We’re really pulling together and I think we’ve got a lot of heart. Everyone’s coming around,” said Buchanan.
Waynesville will seek it’s first win at Camdenton on Thursday and Hillcrest enters play in the Red and Blue Classic.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Tigers 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 5 9 0
Hornets 0 0 2 0 1 4 - 7 7 2
Waynesville: Howser 2 (3B), Kristek, Nevinger 2 (3B), Newcomb, Argenda 3
Hillcrest: Randolph, Barton, Buchanan (HR), Ray, Turner (2), Davis