In a non-conference matchup, the Hollister Tigers defeated the Fordland Eagles, 2-1, on Tuesday night. Hollister won the game on a safety squeeze by sophomore Braeden Newell.
Fordland scored the first run of the game when they had two hits in the first inning, but that is all Hollister senior Zech Wingate would allow them. In only his second start of the year he went four innings, giving up just two hits, walking four, and striking out three for the win.
“I started on a low pitch count but I was finding my spot early, so I just kept going,” said Wingate. “I thought my fastball located really well and I found my curveball a little bit later in the game. I just rely on throwing strikes because I know my defense is going to make the plays. Even though we are young, we all have experience so I’m not really worried about what grade they’re in. I really trust them to make plays.”
“Wingate really hasn’t pitched much, ever, and he had some rib problems earlier, so we kind of slowed him up,” said Hollister coach John Burgi. “The last two times he’s pitched, he’s done a good job for us. He’s our best athlete, best player, so we’ve got to see if he can do it on the mound for us.”
The game would remain 1-0 until the fourth inning when Hollister scratched a run across, tying the game at 1-1. Fordland starting pitcher, junior Michael Hart, went five innings, allowing just the one run. Junior Ethan Grandel pitched the last two innings for the Eagles.
Hollister had runners on the corners earlier in the game and tried a safety squeeze and it didn’t work. In the sixth inning, it came as no surprise when they tried it again. This time, Newell got the bunt down and the runner scored, giving Hollister the 2-1 lead.
“We do it all the time,” said Burgi, “we just try to get it on the ground and score.”
Hollister used two pitchers to finish up what Wingate started. Trey Dorlon and Landon Farquhar held the Eagles hitless the final three innings.
“It was a good game,” said Fordland coach Garret Keith. “It’s tough to lose this time of year. This is the last game we have going into the district tournament. I felt that playing at home we had the opportunity to play well. We are 14-7 going into this game and we wanted to go into districts with some momentum and make a little noise. It’s a winnable district, everybody is capable of it. Ultimately, our pitchers have thrown extremely well and given us a chance to win. Defensively, we’ve given ourselves chances but we’ve struggled at the plate, especially lately. We’ve got do things better to win close games.”
With both teams gearing up for next week’s district play, the coaches saw good things but also saw things to work on.
“Neither one of us really set it on fire, offensively, but both teams pitched well, threw strikes and played good defense,” said Burgi. “We’re an all sophomore team, for the most part. Bekemeier, Farquhar, Dorlon and Steele, those four played a lot last year. Ethan Parks, Braeden Newell and Chris Misemer, they’ve come in and just picked up. Zech’s been a great leader this year, he’s been a guy that has really stepped up and played unbelievably well. We just try to go out and play. Tonight was just a good high school baseball game.”
Hollister 2 Fordland 1
Hollister 000 101 0 — 2
Fordland 100 000 0 — 1