Posted: Wednesday, 22 May 2013 11:23PM

Willard offense heats up in sectional win over Branson



Branson, Mo. (OzarksSportsZone.com)  -- Video Platform Video Management Video Solutions Video Player

The Willard High School baseball team couldn’t seem to figure out Branson starting pitcher Tyler Whiteis. The Tigers could only muster one hit off Whiteis through the first four innings and were staring at a 3-0 deficit.

That all changed in the fifth.

Willard erupted for six runs on six hits to take the lead for good, going on to win 10-4 in the Class 5 sectional battle Wednesday night at Pirate Field.

GAME PHOTOS

“I think we relaxed, we took aggressive swings,” said Willard coach Scott McGee. “I thought Whiteis got a little bit fatigued, but I thought we swung the bats well there in the fifth and sixth innings.”

Willard, seeking its second straight trip to state, will host Rock Bridge in a quarterfinals matchup at 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Just nine outs away from their season being over, Willard finally broke through in the fifth inning.

The Tigers got an RBI single Keaton Presley, a two-run double from Chanse Quinlan, and an RBI single from Luke Latham to make it 4-3. Freshman and starting pitcher Kyle Smith capped the big inning and knocked Whiteis out of the game with a two-out, two-run single with the bases loaded that put the Tigers ahead 6-3.

“Hitting’s contagious and (Whiteis) started leaving a few balls up,” said Branson coach Troy Nimmo. “He was working knee-high early and left a couple of balls up and they got some hits on it and capitalized when they had the opportunity.”

Willard tacked on four more runs in the sixth inning against Branson reliever Barrett White. The Tigers got an RBI single from Quinlan, a two-run double by Michael Pfiefer and an RBI groundout from Justin Atchison.

The extra runs were a big bonus for Willard in the long run; the Tigers were able to preserve ace Justin Atchison for Thursday’s game against Rock Bridge. Atchison is undefeated this season and in his varsity career.

“We were concerned we would have to go to (Atchison) in the seventh,” McGee said. “Then, all of a sudden, he wouldn’t be as sharp tomorrow.”

“He was begging me to put him in and I’m not wanting to. We were fortunate to get those four (runs) in the sixth… that kind of opened the door for us.”

Willard spotted Branson a two-run lead in the top of the first. Branson, the road team in the game after Willard won the pregame coin toss, scored its two runs on a pair of Tiger two-base errors during Ricky Ward’s at-bat.

With a runner on second, Ward hit a grounder to short but the throw to first base was misfired. Ward took second and on the throw-in from right field, the ball was again overthrown allowing Ward to round the bases for Branson’s second run of the game.

Willard’s early struggles on defense didn’t seem to rattle Smith, who went on to pitch five innings, giving up his lone earned run of the game in the third.

“He’s a freshman that doesn’t at all act like a freshman,” McGee said of Smith. “He’s just very composed. It’s hard, when you get to this time of year, to be a freshman and have to be ‘a guy.’ Right now, he has to be a guy for us and he was really good tonight.”

Branson loaded the bases with one out in the sixth against Willard’s relief pitcher, Quinlan. But the Pirates could only plate one run – a John Ward walk that brought home a run. Quinlan followed with a strikeout and forced a flyout to end the threat.

“If you come up with a single or gap-shot there to keep things going, you never know what can happen because we’ve been a dangerous team with the bat throughout the season,” Nimmo said.

Nimmo added that Branson’s inability to add to its early lead made a big difference. The Pirates also ran into a couple of outs on the base paths.

“There’s never a good end-of-the-year speech unless you win a state championship,” Nimmo said. “Even if you get second, you always want more.

“We gotta be pleased with what (our players) did. “We were the 6-seed in a very tough district and put it together in districts and won a district championship.”

Photo Galleries

Pictures: Missouri State opens football camp


The Missouri State Bears took to the brand new Plaster Sports Complex turf Thursday afternoon to open fall practice.

Pictures: Best of 2013-14 Walnut Grove Tigers


Catch the top photos from the 2013-14 Straff

Pictures: Best of 2013-14 Strafford Indians


Catch the top photos from the 2013-14 Strafford Indians.
Videos
O-Zone Opinion
Mohawk Chronicles: Oklahoma the right choice for Dorial Green-Beckham
Dorial Green-Beckham is now an Oklahoma Sooner. If you’re scratching your head right now, you’re not alone. Yes, DGB will have to sit out the entire 2014 season, something that he wouldn’t have had to do had he transferred to a...
Read More
Mohawk Chronicles: Ozark Conference 7v7 Football recap
For the third summer in a row Kickapoo hosted the Ozark Conference 7v7 Tournament. Here is a recap from the 3rd annual event. The Champs are here For the first time in the 3-year history of the Ozark Conference 7-on-7 Tournament someone...
Read More
The future is now for local soccer
We’re graduating a great crop of senior soccer players this spring. Anywhere from 15-25 will not only contend for all-state honors once the season is over, but also keep playing in college next school year. So, who replaces some of those top...
Read More
Most Viewed