Coming into Monday's contest with Republic, Cassville (3-3) had scored at least seven runs in each of its first five games of the young season, but the high-octane Wildcats offense ran into a buzzsaw in game number six.
Tigers starting pitcher Chandler Coates, who turned in a four-hit, seven-strikeout effort, shut down Cassville's bats for seven full innings and completed the sharpest outing on the mound for a Republic (3-3) pitcher this year in a 4-0 victory.
The brilliant pitching performance overshadowed a solid showing from Cassville senior Alex Vanderpool, who kept his team afloat by allowing just two earned runs on six hits in five and a third innings of work.
“He did a great job,” Cassville head coach Jade Samborski said of his starter. “Most games when he pitches like that, we're going to be in the ballgame and we're going to score runs for him.”
Despite his commendable overall work on the bump, Vanderpool was faced with adversity early. After recording a strikeout and fly-out to begin the bottom of the first, the senior hurler put the next two Republic batters on base – setting the stage for Gage Morris and Landin Sigman, who knocked back-to-back RBI singles to culminate a two-out rally and give the Tigers a 2-0 advantage.
That would be all that Coates would need on the day.
After allowing a pair of hits through the opening two innings, Coates shifted into overdrive – retiring ten consecutive Wildcats in a span that ranged from the second to the sixth frame, thanks to the ability to find the strike zone on demand.
“A lot of it was just consistently throwing strikes for the most part,” Coates said on his strong effort. “We've got a good defense over there and it really helps to be able to just pound the strike zone. If they do put the ball in play, I know my defense will probably make a play for me.”
Trailing 3-0, Cassville had a golden opportunity to swing the game into its favor in the top of the sixth when it loaded the bases with one out, but a fielder's choice out at home plate and a strikeout to right fielder Alex Dyer killed the threat and essentially drained any remaining hope for the Wildcats.
“We had an opportunity to get back in that ballgame right there against a really good pitcher,” said Samborski. “That game came down to [Coates]. He threw very, very well.”
Despite the loss, the first-year head coach has his team looking up as the season progresses.
“These guys are going to fight,” Samborski added. “They're six games into [the season] with a new coach and a new way of playing the game, and we're getting there. I'm proud of them.”
Cassville will travel to face Billings on Thursday, while Republic hosts Hillcrest on Tuesday.